Just as the London Underground regularly states “Please mind the gap” to prepare passengers disembarking for what could be a large gap between their expectations and the reality of distance between carriage and platform when the doors open – Stefan Fule is now trying to insure there is a similar preparation of expectations between the European Commission and European Parliament regarding Ukraine and the signing – or not – of the Association Agreement and DCFTA.
The signing of these agreements is now a matter of national security for Ukraine - Presidential Decree 127/2013 dated 12th March now officially makes it a matter of national security.
Yet not many would guarantee that this will mean Ukraine manages to do all that is expected of it either by May, when matters are next assessed, or more importantly November when the agreements are planned to be signed.
Whilst the RADA not working due to the opposition blocking it may seem as though the opposition are destined to allow themselves to be a scapegoat should May assessments prove negative on progress reports, that does not mean the legislation is not being worked upon – by majority and minority alike – it undoubtedly is, for neither side wants to be the side held up as responsible for failing to meet the rhetoric contained within the joint RADA pro-EU statement made only a few weeks ago.
Principled grandstanding keeps media attention, at least for a while, but no politicians home or within the EU are running around like Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit staring at their watch – at least not yet – though there may be a concerned glance at their time pieces now and again. When the laws are ready (and quite possibly pre-agreed by majority and minority behind closed doors with the RADA still blocked), it doesn’t really take that long to unblock the RADA and pass the relevant laws – even if thereafter the RADA is blocked once more to prevent non-EU orientated laws being tabled and/or passed.
As I wrote back on 10th February, it seems very likely Lutsenko will be released soon. A step in the right direction – whether it be a step far enough with Tymoshenko likely to remain in jail is the question. Much will be determined by the Ukrainian actions upon receiving the ECfHR rulings relating to her case. It is unlikely that pending proceedings will be dropped.
So, Ukraine will work towards the May and November dates undoubtedly – even if it appears that nothing is happening to a casual observer.
Whether is will do enough is a completely different matter.
Whether the European Commission and the European Parliament have no gaps between their respective expectations is an issue that Stefan Fule is trying to address now it seems.
If these agreements do get signed, then the next expectation gap that hasn’t been addressed is that of the Ukrainian public who hear and read about these agreements all the time – but who will see absolutely no difference after they are signed and a period of years thereafter – And it will take years for all parties to actually ratify these agreements.
You cannot help but feel that even if these agreements are signed in November – there will be a lot of expectations that fall into the gap – both immediately and in the immediate time frame that follows – the agreements are, after all, not a panacea that will cure all the ills of Ukraine.