Skip to main content

From the liberation of Crimea to the path to the EU. Explaining the meaning of the EU-Ukraine Summit decisions


On February 3, Kyiv hosted the EU-Ukraine Summit, the key bilateral event that gathers presidents of Ukraine, European Commission and European Council together.

The result of the summit is a joint statement reflecting positions and requirements of both parties. However, this document is written in a diplomatic language. To explain it, we are publishing the statement (translation) with comments. The comments and clarifications of the meaning of certain details of the joint statement are printed in green letters.

Joint statement following the 24th EU-Ukraine Summit

  1. We gathered today (in Kyiv) in the context of Russia’s ongoing unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine. We condemned it in the strongest possible terms and discussed how to further support Ukraine and how to increase collective pressure on Russia to end its war and withdraw its troops.

    This is the first time the intention to strengthen sanctions against Russia is mentioned in the document. We will come back to this commitment of the EU on a number of occasions.

    The EU will support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people against Russia’s ongoing war of aggression for as long as it takes. We highlighted the historical importance of the decision of the European Council of 23 June 2022 to recognise the European perspective of and grant the status of candidate country to Ukraine. We reiterated that the future of Ukraine and its citizens lies within the European Union.

    The main signal the EU leaders came to Kyiv with is that Ukraine will most definitely become an EU member. Mostly the president of the European Commission spoke about it, for example in this speech. The decision of the summit, which was approved by all EU member states, turned out to be less impressive, but still has a clear wording.

    We share common values of democracy, rule of law, respect for international law and human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, as well as gender equality. The EU reiterated its unwavering support and commitment to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.

The part about the Association Agreement and the accession process

  1. We reiterated our commitment to further deepening our relationship, based on common values and close and privileged links. The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement has been and continues to be of essential importance in facilitating and promoting Ukraine’s further integration with the EU. The EU recalled the decision by the European Council to recognise Ukraine’s European perspective and grant to Ukraine the status of a candidate country. The EU reiterated its commitment to support Ukraine’s further European integration. The EU will decide on further steps once all conditions specified in the Commission’s opinion are fully met. Ukraine underlined its determination to meet the necessary requirements in order to start accession negotiations as soon as possible.

    Representatives from Brussels are unanimous: to convince all sceptics in the EU and start accession negotiations, Ukraine must fulfil all 7 conditions, without leaving something to be completed at a later date. The summit put additional emphasis on this. Kyiv, on its part, reassured that everybody clearly understood this.
  1. The EU reiterated that the Commission has been invited to report on the fulfilment of the conditions specified in the Commission’s opinion on Ukraine’s membership application as part of its regular enlargement package in 2023. Without prejudice to this comprehensive regular reporting, we take note of the Commission’s intention to provide an update in spring 2023 which will also be conveyed to Ukraine through the appropriate channels.

    This bureaucratic phrase is, without a doubt, the biggest victory of Ukraine in terms of moving towards accession to the EU. It is the phrase that will allow (naturally, provided that Kyiv implements the reforms) parties to start accession negotiations as early as in 2023. Previously, the EU refused to provide Ukraine with written assessment of what still needs to be done to fulfil the aforementioned 7 conditions earlier than October 2023. Now, the EU agreed to provide the assessment in spring, and in written form, based on the context.

    This will allow Ukraine to “fix mistakes” and in autumn, possibly, receive the decision of the Eu on the start of the accession negotiations. The main requirement is to fully and honestly implement the reforms.
  1. The EU acknowledged the considerable efforts that Ukraine demonstrated in the recent months towards meeting the objectives underpinning its candidate status for EU membership, welcomed Ukraine’s reform efforts in such difficult times, and encouraged the country to continue on this path and to fulfil the conditions specified in the Commission’s opinion on its membership application in order to advance towards future EU membership.

    The EU is generally satisfied with the progress of reforms in Ukraine, taking into account the war.
  1. We reaffirmed that comprehensive and consistent implementation of judicial reforms, in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission, including the reform of the Constitutional Court and the selection procedure of politically independent and qualified constitutional judges, remains vital for strengthening Ukraine’s resilience and for progress on the enlargement process.

    Although it is a joint statement, this paragraph was included upon the insistence of the EU to emphasize that Ukraine’s attempts to go around the requirement regarding the reform of the Constitutional Court will not be successful; the same applies to the judicial reform. In its assessment of Ukraine’s progress, the EU views these areas as a priority.

    We acknowledged the role of the civilian EU Advisory Mission. We welcomed Ukraine’s increased alignment with the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and recalled our joint commitment to promote the principles enshrined in the Association Agreement, including Article 7(2). We welcomed progress in ensuring the independent and effective operation of the anti-corruption institutions and on alignment of Ukraine’s media legislation with the EU audio-visual media services acquis.

    Having commented on the Constitutional Court (which is at the top of the 7 recommendations required to move towards membership), EU representatives recognized progress of two other reforms. The interesting fact that ensuring independent and effective operation of anti-corruption institutions, which is usually considered a problem area, is one of them.

    The EU and Ukraine reiterated their commitment to fully respect the rights of persons belonging to minorities, as enshrined in UN and Council of Europe conventions and related protocols. In this regard, Ukraine will continue to consult and cooperate with the Venice Commission and will pursue the ongoing substantive dialogue with representatives of persons belonging to minorities, including on related legislation. The EU stands ready to assist Ukraine further in its reform efforts and their implementation.

    The issue of minorities is traditionally problematic in statements about Ukraine. Right now, it is being discussed more actively due to the adoption of the framework law on minorities, which is one of the 7 recommendations. The law caused objections from Hungary and Romania, although experts believe that it complies with the regulations. According to the joint agreement of Ukraine and the EU, the dispute should be resolved by the Venice Commission.
  1. The EU welcomed Ukraine’s intention to prepare the National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis (NPAA) on the basis of the Analytical Report on the preparedness of Ukraine in the acquis chapters following the Commission’s Opinion on Ukraine’s application for membership of the European Union. The EU is ready to provide technical support for the Government of Ukraine in this important step towards alignment of Ukrainian legislation with the EU acquis.

    This Ukraine’s initiative deserves support (not only from the EU). The government plans to align Ukrainian legislation with the EU acquis (go over chapters of negotiations with the EU) even before the negotiations officially begin.
  1. We reiterated the intention to fully exploit the potential of the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (AA/DCFTA), so as to establish conditions for enhanced economic and trade relations leading towards Ukraine’s integration into the EU’s Internal Market. The revised Priority Action Plan for enhanced implementation of the DCFTA for 2023-2024 constitutes the roadmap outlining the next steps to ease Ukraine’s access to EU’s Internal Market.

    The plan is indeed an important document, the EuropeanPravda described the obligations undertaken by Ukraine and the EU.

    The EU confirmed its willingness to provide the relevant support for the associated reforms. The EU highlighted the trade-enhancing effects of the temporary suspension of all tariffs and trade defence measures on imports from Ukraine into the EU since June 2022. The EU will consider Ukraine’s request to extend the measures beyond the current validity.

    This is about extending for a period of one more year the special regime for Ukrainian exports to the EU. The Eu introduced the regime to help Ukrainian producers during the war.

    Taking note of the positive effects of the EU trade liberalisation measures both parties committed to ensuring that any trade defence measures are taken in full conformity with the WTO and the Association Agreement/DCFTA. We welcomed Ukraine’s reforms in the area of customs and trade facilitation and joining the Common Transit Convention. Ukraine welcomed the EU’s ongoing determination and efforts to include Ukraine in the European roaming area as soon as possible.

    Ukraine and the EU are expected to mutually cancel roaming charges soon; the decision is expected in the next few months.

    The EU acknowledged the efforts that Ukraine has made in aligning its telecommunications sector with European provisions and encouraged the country to continue on this path. We agreed to step up the work of the EU’s preliminary assessment missions and other necessary steps with a view to starting negotiations on the Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA).

    This agreement is also known as the “industrial visa-free regime”. In another publication we wrote that the EU named the possible date of conclusion of the agreement for the first time – 2024.
  1. The EU reiterated its commitment to provide continued support under ongoing projects and programmes. We welcomed Ukraine’s joining EU CUSTOMS and FISCALIS programmes, its association to the Horizon Europe, Euratom, Digital Europe and the EU’s Single Market Programme as well as its participation in the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications.

Part about responding to Russia’s war of aggression and supporting Ukraine

  1. Russia’s escalating war of aggression against Ukraine constitutes a manifest violation of international law, including the principles of the UN Charter. The EU reaffirmed its unwavering support for and solidarity with Ukraine in the face of the ongoing Russian war of aggression. We condemn the systematic use by Russia of missiles and drones to attack civilians, and civilian objects and infrastructure across Ukraine, in breach of International Humanitarian Law.

    Ukraine is asking the EU to introduce additional sanctions against Russia to impact its ability to manufacture drones. The joint statement mentioned them twice in order to form grounds for the sanctions.

    We firmly reject and unequivocally condemn the attempted illegal annexation by Russia of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. As in the case of Crimea and Sevastopol, the European Union will never recognise as lawful any attempted illegal annexations of any parts of Ukrainian territory. We demand that Russia immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.

    The EU recognizes that there is no difference between occupation and annexation of Crimea and the East of Ukraine. This is the right recognition.
  1. The EU commended the courage and determination of the Ukrainian people and its leadership in their fight to defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and freedom of Ukraine. In accordance with the UN Charter and international law, Ukraine is exercising its inherent right of self-defence against the Russian aggression. It has the right to liberate and regain full control of all occupied territories within its internationally recognised borders.

    This is probably the main phrase of the “military part” of the joint statement. It is the first time that the right of Ukraine to liberate occupied Crimea is mentioned in an international document.
  1. In the context of continued Russian attacks against civilian and critical infrastructure, which threaten the provision of basic services, the EU is fully committed to continue providing and coordinating the full spectrum of humanitarian aid and assistance to the Ukrainian society, in close cooperation with international humanitarian actors.

Part about Russia’s accountability and sanctions

  1. We stressed that war crimes and the other most serious crimes committed during Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine of which there is growing evidence, are a gross violation of international law. We underlined our support for the investigations by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Russia, and all perpetrators and accomplices, will be held to account. We agreed to continue working together to ensure full accountability, including by establishing an appropriate mechanism for the crime of aggression, the prosecution of which is of interest to the international community as a whole. Ukraine emphasized its preference for establishing a Special Tribunal.

    Establishing an international tribunal for the crime of aggression is one of the key priorities of Kyiv in the sphere of international justice. This is the body that will be able to convict Russian political and military leadership. That the EU (and therefore all its member countries) supported establishment of such a mechanism could be viewed as an important achievement, as there was not the same support before.

    We support the development of an international centre for the prosecution of the crime of aggression in Ukraine (ICPA) in The Hague with the objective to coordinate investigation of the crime of aggression against Ukraine, preserve and store evidence for future trials. This centre would be linked to the existing Joint Investigation Team supported by Eurojust.

    The EU is not ready to finalize the format of the special tribunal yet, but will introduce an international mechanism that will prepare for it.
  1. We discussed how to further support Ukraine and how to increase collective pressure on Russia to end its war of aggression and to withdraw its troops from Ukraine.
  1. The EU has further reinforced and extended its restrictive measures against Russia, including through the EU’s ninth package of restrictive measures and the international oil price cap and oil products price cap. The EU stands ready to continue to reinforce the restrictive measures in close coordination and cooperation with global partners, while ensuring their effective implementation, preventing circumvention and its facilitation. In this context, the EU reiterates its call for all countries to align with EU sanctions.

    This means that the sanction will be further reinforced! The document mentions this on several occasions. Also, Europe is already introducing criminal accountability for going around sanctions.
  1. We strongly condemned the military support to Russia’s war of aggression provided by the Iranian authorities, which must stop. In this context Ukraine welcomed the EU restrictive measures adopted on 12 December 2022. We called on the Belarusian authorities to stop enabling the Russian war of aggression by permitting Russian armed forces to use Belarusian territory and by providing support and training to the Russian military. The Belarusian regime must fully abide by its obligations under international law. The EU will continue to respond to all actions supporting Russia’s unlawful and unjustified war of aggression and remains ready to move quickly with further restrictive measures against Belarus.

    This is also about possible new sanctions against the Belarusian regime.

Part about military support and conditions of Russia’s defeat

  1. The EU reiterated its readiness to support Ukraine’s initiative for a just peace based on respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. To date, Russia has not shown any genuine willingness regarding a fair and sustainable peace.

    All Russia’s proposals related to the loss of a part of territory and/or sovereignty by Ukraine were rejected.

    We expressed our support to the peace formula of President Zelenskyy and our commitment to actively work with Ukraine on the 10-point peace plan. In this regard, we support the idea of a Peace Formula Summit aiming at launching its implementation. We will work together to ensure the widest possible international participation.

    The “peace formula” of Zelenskyy is a document the president presented at the G20 Summit. It is essentially Ukraine’s vision of conditions of Russia’s capitulation, which involves liberation of the entire territory of Ukraine, financing of Ukraine’s rebuilding by Russia, etc. Kyiv is currently building a global coalition to support this plan and the fact that the EU agreed to promote it is clearly a good sign.
  1. Ukraine welcomed the EU’s commitment to continue providing political and military support as long as it takes. This includes military assistance of more than EUR 3.6 billion under the European Peace Facility, and the launch of the EU Military Assistance Mission to train an initial 30 000 soldiers in 2023. Together with the military support provided by EU Member States, the overall EU military support to Ukraine is estimated at close to EUR 12 billion.
  1. The EU reconfirmed its solidarity with Ukraine in countering hybrid threats and cyberattacks and its commitment to continue the support in this regard. We highlighted our enhanced cooperation in cybersecurity and our commitment to achieving further concrete results. We acknowledged the importance of strengthening cooperation in tackling Russian state-controlled information manipulation and interference, including disinformation, as well as building resilience in Ukraine’s digital transformation.

Parts about other types of support to Ukraine

  1. The EU will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. Ukraine welcomed the EU’s pledged assistance in response to Russia´s war of aggression. Overall assistance to Ukraine pledged both at EU and Member states level so far amounts to nearly EUR 50 billion, which includes financial, humanitarian, emergency, budgetary as well as military support.

    This also includes the commitment to provide up to EUR 18 billion MFA+ package for short-term EU financial relief financing Ukraine’s immediate needs and rehabilitation of critical infrastructure for 2023. An additional EUR 10 billion was provided in support to refugees. Ukraine welcomed the first disbursement of EUR 3 billion that contributed to lessen the pressing liquidity needs early in the year.
  1. Some 8 million Ukrainians have been provided shelter from the Russian war of aggression in the EU. Displaced persons from Ukraine seeking refuge in the EU will continue to be protected as foreseen under the Temporary Protection Directive until at least March 2024.

    Ukrainians, primarily Ukrainian women and children will retain the right to protection in the EU countries. Essentially, this protection will continue until the end of the war and for some time after the war.
  1. Russia’s ongoing campaign of systematic missile and drone strikes against Ukrainian civilians, civilian targets, energy and telecommunications infrastructure and other utilities, inflicts even more suffering on the Ukrainian people and is a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law.
  1. In this context, we welcomed the coordination mechanism agreed at the Paris conference on Ukraine’s resilience and reconstruction on 13 December 2022 and the role of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism in its implementation and underlined the importance of close cooperation with the G7 and all international partners.
  1. We condemned Russia’s actions at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and call on Russia to immediately cease actions endangering the safety and security of civilian nuclear facilities. We underlined our full support for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s work to assist Ukraine in ensuring nuclear safety and security. The EU will remain united in the face of Russia’s weaponisation of energy.
  1. The EU and its Member States have provided in kind assistance worth € 527 million, including in the area of energy, through the Union Civil Protection Mechanism, and EUR €485 million worth of humanitarian assistance in 2022.

    This is the first estimate of the cost of energy equipment that Ukraine has received from the EU since the beginning of massive missile strikes on energy facilities.

    We discussed the continued provision of humanitarian and civil protection assistance to Ukraine, including in-kind, and assistance in the restoration of Ukraine’s critical infrastructure to help Ukraine get through the winter and preserve livelihoods and basic services, including rehabilitation of housing for Internally Displaced Persons, schools for Ukrainian children and very urgent energy equipment such as i.a. autotransformers, energy generators and LED lightbulbs.
  1. The EU recalled its commitment to providing, along with partners, support to Ukraine’s fast recovery and reconstruction, including rebuilding of the social infrastructure and demining assistance, as well as in providing support in health and psychological rehabilitation and reintegration into active social life.

    This means that the EU will start helping rebuild critical infrastructure without waiting for the war to end. The government estimates the funding needs at EUR 17 billion.

    In this context, the EU announced a new package of up to EUR 25 million to support humanitarian action. The EU confirmed its intention to play a leading role, notably through the inclusive multi-agency Donor Coordination Platform agreed between Ukraine, the G7, International Financial Institutions and other key partners, building also on the results of the Lugano and Berlin international conferences on the reconstruction of Ukraine. The EU and Ukraine underlined that relief, reconstruction, reforms and Ukraine’s European path are mutually reinforcing, underpinning Ukraine’s efforts in its modernization and alignment with EU standards. We acknowledged the crucial role civil society, local administrations and private actors will play in Ukraine’s reconstruction.
  1. We welcomed the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding between the European Union and Ukraine on a Strategic Partnership on Renewable Gases during the Summit, which will strengthen our energy security, support our fight against climate change, and have a positive impact on economic recovery and the further integration of our energy markets.
  1. We underscored the importance of further implementing the EU-Ukraine Solidarity Lanes. Covering trade across all sectors and connecting Ukraine with the EU and the rest of the world, they have become a life line for Ukraine’s economy. Between May and December 2022, they have allowed for the export of about 45 million tonnes of Ukrainian goods and equally importantly the import into Ukraine of about 23 million tonnes of goods it needs, generating an estimated EUR 20 billion in revenues for Ukrainian farmers and businesses. We agreed to prioritise efforts to further strengthen EU-Ukraine connectivity, particularly by improving infrastructural connections, including through the development of interoperable railway infrastructure, extending the EU-Ukraine Road Transport Agreement and by mobilising EU financial support to the development of the Solidarity Lanes as announced in the EU – Ukraine Joint Declaration of 11 November 2022.

Parts about Russia’s frozen assets, diplomacy and other

  1. The EU will also step up its work towards the use of Russia’s frozen assets to support Ukraine’s reconstruction and for the purposes of reparation, in accordance with EU and international law.

    This means that we have political support of the EU in ensuring that Russia’s assets must be frozen and used to fund Ukraine’s recovery.
  1. The EU will further step up its ongoing diplomatic efforts in support of Ukraine in all relevant international fora, calling for steadfast solidarity with Ukraine against Russia’s war of aggression.
  1. We recalled that Russia, by weaponising food in its war of aggression against Ukraine, has triggered world-wide disruptions of agricultural production, supply chains and trade that have driven food and fertiliser prices to unprecedented levels. We underlined the importance of and need for further strengthening of the Solidarity Lanes, which have brought over 23 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain, oilseeds and other products to world markets between May and December 2022. Together with the UN Black Sea Grain Initiative and the Grain from Ukraine programme, Solidarity Lanes are essential for our shared objective of ensuring continued availability and affordability of food and fertilisers. We are standing in full solidarity with partners world-wide by stepping up the diplomatic outreach and support for global food security.
  1. In parallel to Ukraine’s European integration efforts, the EU and Ukraine recognised the importance of further strengthening tailor-made regional cooperation including the Eastern Partnership, which with its differentiated approach contributes to the resilience of our Eastern Neighbourhood, facilitating also the cooperation on security issues, including energy security and hybrid threats.
  1. The EU and Ukraine welcomed the successful first meeting of the European Political Community which took place on 6 October 2022 in Prague. The meeting provided a platform for political coordination and an opportunity for in-depth exchanges on pressing issues concerning the entire continent. We look forward to the next meeting to be held in Chisinau in the first half of 2023.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy
President of the European Council Charles Michel
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen

Kyiv, 3 February, 24th EU-Ukraine Summit

European Pravda


to top