President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky rejected possible alternatives to EU candidate status and called not to compare Ukraine with other countries that have received this status.
“We do not need alternatives to EU membership. We do not need compromises. These will not be compromises with Ukraine, this will be another compromise between Europe and Russia, “he said in Kyiv on Saturday after talks with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.
“For me, EU candidacy is an important signal. An important signal for our people, who defend their country and European values. I think this is a very important step. I understand that many countries have come a long way – years in terms of application and years in terms of membership, “said the President of Ukraine.
“It is incorrect to compare us with countries that have passed the peaceful path of candidacy. We are going through a war for freedom and independence, for these European values. We are not only wasting time. We lose people. I really want to believe that Portugal will also be on this side of the world, “Zelensky stressed.
At a meeting on Friday, the Ukrainian government approved the composition of the delegation to begin negotiations with the European Union on an agreement on road freight transport between Ukraine and the EU, said Prime Minister Denis Shmygal.
“This means the maximum possible liberalization in this matter and in the issue of access to European ports,” he said, opening the meeting.
The Prime Minister pointed out that, according to the operative data of the State Customs Service, the total value of goods exported from Ukraine in April amounted to $ 2.7 billion, which is twice lower than in April 2021.
“Every day the government team works to increase the capacity of our western border. We are building a new logistics system. We are opening new checkpoints, green corridors. We have simplified customs as much as possible so that businesses can export products freely and quickly,” Shmygal said.
The EU will finance the reconstruction of Dyakovtsy and Koasnoilsk checkpoints on the Ukrainian-Romanian border, the State Customs Service reported.
As the Telegram service indicated on Thursday following a working meeting with the head of the Romanian customs, Bogdan Migei, EU funding will be directed to building infrastructure for trucks from the Ukrainian side.
At the same time, the customs did not specify the amount of funding that would be required for these works.
JSC Ukrzaliznytsia notes a number of problems on the part of the transport system of European countries, which prevent increasing the volume of cargo transportation by rail from Ukraine to Europe.
“The set of technical problems is that the transport system of European countries is not technically ready to transport such large volumes. It needs additional rolling stock: wagons and locomotives,” Deputy Director of the Department of Commercial Work at Ukrzaliznytsia Valeriy Tkachev said at the “Economics of War: May Review and Focus on Infrastructure” conference.
According to him, today Ukrzaliznytsia transports cargo using only 2,000 wagons, or about 130,000 tonnes of cargo per day at the western border crossings, which is approximately equal to 3.8 million tonnes of cargo per month. At the same time, Ukrzaliznytsia’s own capacities allow using 3,422 railcars, or 220,000 tonnes per day.
According to the Ukrainian railway operator, the root of the problem is that the railway infrastructure of Ukraine and Europe is significantly different in gauge. And for the exchange of goods between these two infrastructures, there are only two ways: to reload at the border or to change the wagon bogie. At the same time, Ukrzaliznytsia said that there are not enough transshipment terminals.
“Besides, the most acute problem is the number of wagons on 1,435 mm European gauge track. That is, we, for our part, can transport a much larger volume of cargo, but there is a problem either with a lack of transshipment capacity, or a problem of the availability of European wagons,” Tkachev said.
He also said that there is another technical problem, which is that the infrastructure of European countries has a limited capacity, since it was built for the needs of intra-European transport.
“In Europe, the share of railway transportation of the overall structure of the transport system is 15-35%, while we have 65%. Therefore, the European infrastructure was not initially designed for such large volumes of cargo transportation by rail,” he said.
According to Tkachev, the growth rate of railway transportation is also affected by organizational issues of business, which for many years has been building supply chains towards ports and which now needs to reorient towards border railway crossings.
“Now we have already accumulated 34,000 wagons in the network, which are loaded and are waiting to cross the border,” Tkachev said.
In addition, the presence of a number of red tape procedures at the border, in particular, repetitive procedures of phytosanitary and veterinary control, significantly slows down cargo transportation.
At the same time, the growth in railway transportation continues to recover: according to Tkachev, Ukrzaliznytsia transported 416,000 tonnes of agricultural products in March, and 638,000 tonnes in April. The goal of Ukrzaliznytsia is to reach 1-1.5 million tonnes per month of export of grain products.
The volume of electricity exports from Ukraine to the European Union can replace approximately 17% of the Russian gas consumed by European countries, the Ministry of Energy believes.
“According to our estimates, electricity from Ukraine can replace approximately 17% of Russian gas exported to the EU,” Deputy Minister of Energy of Ukraine Mykola Kolesnyk said during a speech at the 25th Gazterm-2022 conference held in Poland on May 16-17.
According to the ministry, Ukraine submitted its proposals to the European strategy REpowerEU, which provide for practical steps to use the export capacity of the Ukrainian energy system.
“The new REpowerEU strategy should provide clear solutions in three aspects: how to replace Russian energy, how to end Russian control over energy assets in Europe, and how to ensure that this situation does not happen again,” the official said.
At the same time, the deputy minister emphasized the need for decisive action by the governments of European states regarding the complete rejection of Russian energy sources, noting that Ukraine remains a reliable partner of Europe in the energy sector and is ready to make a significant contribution to the reliability of natural gas supplies to European countries.
In particular, he drew attention to the possibility for European companies to use half of the capacity of Ukraine’s underground gas storage facilities (about 15 billion cubic meters) for seasonal or strategic gas reserves, which Energy Minister Herman Haluschenko announced in early May.
As reported, the Ukrainian government plans to resume the operation of additional transmission lines with Poland for the export of Ukrainian nuclear energy.