EU Preps for Rapid Trade Opening With Ukraine If Accord Signed

European Union governments prepared to speed trade concessions to Ukraine if the two sides overcome political barriers to a broader partnership accord.

Representatives of the 28 EU national governments agreed yesterday to enact the free-trade elements of a proposed Association Agreement once it’s signed, without waiting for national ratification of the full pact, an EU official told reporters in Brussels today.

Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius of Lithuania, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said the agreement would mean “90 percent of the free-trade agreement could be applied without the ratification process,” the Baltic News Service reported.

Russia’s determination to keep Ukraine within its sphere of influence is the main political obstacle to closer EU-Ukraine ties. The EU also protests Ukraine’s treatment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was jailed in 2011 in a case Western officials say was politically motivated.

Lithuania is hoping to orchestrate the signing of an EU-Ukraine accord at a summit in Vilnius in November.

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