Signing and ratifying Association Agreements with Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine has proven to be an impressive affirmation of Brussels’ soft power. The EU’s overtures have persuaded elites and mobilised societies despite the fact that the Agreements come neither with a membership promise nor with the kind of financial assistance that has been given to the EU’s new member states.
EU assistance has been effective in restoring macro-financial stability in all three countries. While costs of compliance with the DCFTA were calculated, level of investment associated with the necessary modernisation to make these economies competitive were neglected. The discrepancy between costs and benefits should prompt the EU to be more flexible.
Brussels’ achievements remain fragile. Informal interests continue to play important roles in these countries and have the potential to thwart reforms. In the absence of strong, de-politicised institutions, the EU should work to support political consolidation—the alternative is further polarisation and political fragility—while at the same time insisting on adherence to democratic standards and strengthened institutional checks and balances.
This study was originally published by the European Parliament with the title “The state of implementation of the associations and free trade agreements with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova with a particular focus on Ukraine and systemic analysis of key sectors.”