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European Council President Charles Michel set to visit Ukraine


European Council President Charles Michel set to visit Ukraine

Photo: European Council

European Council President Charles Michel will arrive in Ukraine today for a two-day working visit.

European support has been crucial to Ukrainian leadership as conflict with Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine has continued. Today’s meetings follow a February 9 discussion between Michel and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal regarding the implementation of the 2014 Ukraine-EU Association Agreement. The agreement establishes a process for strengthening Ukraine’s economic and political integration with the EU.

EU representatives argue that major obstacles to closer partnership—particularly corruption within the Ukrainian government—remain. Though European officials have noted improvements in Kyiv’s governance within recent years, education, judicial and energy sector reforms have only moderately progressed, hindering Ukraine’s accession to the EU.

Expect Michel to reiterate European support for Ukrainian sovereignty and to sign transportation agreements further integrating Ukraine with Europe, whilst also stressing the need for Kyiv to enact anti-corruption reforms outlined in the association agreement. Looking ahead, outright Ukrainian accession remains improbable as Kyiv’s political class continues to prioritise managing conflict with Russia over domestic change. However, despite Brussels’ insistence on reforms, the EU is likely to continue working to align Ukraine more closely with Europe through individual agreements, as tensions between the EU and Russia spike.

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