With Ukraine coming under attack from Russia, the EU has undertaken a variety of measures to support the country and forge closer ties with it.
Following are the various suppor initiatives as announced by the European Parliament:
Since withdrawing from the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine has been keen to pursue its own path, including forging closer links with the rest of Europe.
Ukraine’s relations with Russia have been tense due to the latter’s determination to keep the country within its sphere of influence. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea in violation of international law, a move strongly condemned by the EU. It has also been waging a hybrid war against Ukraine, including economic pressure and disinformation attacks.
In September 2014, the European Parliament gave its consent to the EU-Ukraine Association agreement, which includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. The deal established political association and economic integration between the EU and Ukraine and provided for mutual free market access.
The agreement established ground rules for cooperation in areas including energy, transport, and education. It also required Ukraine to implement reforms and respect democratic principles, human rights and the rule of law.
The free trade agreement substantially integrated EU and Ukraine markets by dismantling import duties and banning other trade restrictions, albeit with specific limitations and transitional periods in sensitive areas, such as trade in agricultural products.
The EU is Ukraine’s main trading partner, accounting for more than 40% of the country’s international trade.
In April 2017, the European Parliament supported an agreement to exempt Ukrainian citizens from EU short-stay visa requirements.
Ukrainians who hold a biometric passport can enter the EU without a visa for 90 days in any 180-day period, for tourism, to visit relatives or friends, or for business purposes, but not to work. The exemption applies to all EU countries, except Ireland.
Since 2014, more than €17 billion in grants and loans have been mobilised by the EU and financial institutions to support reforms in Ukraine, while applying conditionality dependent on their progress.
Since 2015, more than 11,500 Ukrainian students have participated in the EU’s popular Erasmus+ programme.
The EU invests in projects to stimulate Ukraine’s economy, including direct support to 100,000 small and medium-sized enterprises, assistance to more than 10,000 firms in rural areas and funds to modernise public IT infrastructure.
Since the start of the Covid pandemic, the EU has mobilised more than €190 million for Ukraine to support immediate needs and socio-economic recovery as well as €1.2 billion in macro-financial assistance. The EU has supplied more than 36 million items of personal protective equipment, as well as ambulances, critical medical equipment and training for health care staff. In cooperation with civil society, the EU provides food and medicines to vulnerable families.
On 16 February 2022, MEPs approved a €1.2 billion macro-financial loan to help Ukraine cover its external financing needs in 2022.
In 2018 Parliament awarded its Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Oleg Sentsov. The Ukrainian film director and human rights activist was imprisoned for protesting Russia’s annexation of his native Crimea on Independence Square in Kyiv, but released from jail on 7 September 2019 as part of a prisoner exchange deal between Russia and Ukraine.