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EU to start FTA talks with Ukraine

Xinhua, China

EU to start FTA talks with Ukraine

14 September 2006

BRUSSELS, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) — The European Union (EU) will start free trade area (FTA) negotiations with Ukraine hopefully in early 2007, said the European Commission on Wednesday.

The commission, the executive body of the EU, on Wednesday proposed negotiating directives for a new enhanced agreement with Ukraine, which includes a free trade area.

The new enhanced agreement is meant to replace the existing Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

The commission document now goes to national governments for approval with a view to beginning negotiations early in 2007, said the commission.

"The new agreement will bring us closer together by stepping up our cooperation in a wide range of areas, including vital topics like energy, justice and security issues, transport and the environment," EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said.

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said: "The new agreement will aim to build on Ukraine’s forthcoming accession to the WTO (World Trade Organization) with an FTA that creates a strong foundation for closer trade and economic relations between the EU and Ukraine."

The commission, therefore, asks Ukraine to make the adoption of the remaining items of legislation necessary for Ukraine’s accession to the WTO a priority.

The commission’s move came on the eve of Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych’s first visit to Brussels.

Yanukovych will meet Ferrero-Waldner and commission vice-president Gunter Verheugen as well as EU foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana.

Priorities include the implementation of a memorandum of understanding on energy and the finalization of agreements on readmission and visa facilitation.

Discussions will also cover human rights, rule of law, cooperation on common foreign and security policy, and trade and economic matters.