Political expert Volodymyr Volia has shared his opinion about development prospects of the EU, the economic situation today and the consequences of the pandemic, as well as made forecasts about the revival of the Schengen Area exclusively for the Expert Kitchen program on the Expert Club YouTube channel.
According to the expert, the EU has faced several unpleasant events lately, such as the Brexit referendum and the so-called coronavirus crisis, and if the second wave of the pandemic occurs, the recession may get even worse and trigger a social crisis, poverty and unemployment.
“As the economy of Europe has been seriously affected since February, we may witness even a longer halt that will ‘kill’ the economy of the EU,” Volia said.
He added that as of the middle of April alone the EU has sustained a loss of more than EUR 3 trillion, which equals the annual federal budget of the United States. The expert also forecasted the exacerbation of the argument between the EU member states on the allocation of sales quotas, which are especially important to the countries of the Eastern and Southeast Europe, assistance and contributions to the EU budget.
In the expert’s opinion, the revival prospects of the Schengen Area look more optimistic.
“I think the movement inside the Schengen Area will be completely resumed by the end of June. As to the states, which are not a part of this area, a piecemeal approach will be applied to them. The epidemiological situation in each specific country will be taken into account and the regions of the world will be determined for the simplification of the procedure. Certainly, everything will also depend on the purpose of travel,” he said.
Volia also noted that tourism in the non-Schengen countries will be revived almost in full by the beginning of July.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky declares that Ukraine seeks full membership in the European Union.
“Eastern Partnership shouldn’t limit the ambitions of its partners. For some, political dialogue or strategic partnership with EU is enough, some seek integration with the common market on the basis of 4 freedoms, but Ukraine seeks full membership of the EU,” he wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
On June 18, the Eastern Partnership summit is held in video mode with the participation of the EU leadership, the heads of the Eastern Partnership states and the heads of all EU member states.
According to the presidential press service, the head of state reminded that from the beginning the goal of the initiative was to build the EU community with partners who share European values and principles. At the same time, the benefits of such an association should be enjoyed by all citizens of the countries – participants.
The president of Ukraine expressed confidence in the possibility of jointly overcoming the challenges of today, in particular the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, by deepening integration and increasing coordination between countries, rather than by political self-isolation and protectionism.
“This meeting is a great opportunity to discuss further cooperation to overcome the current crisis and overcome similar challenges in the future. We are facing very difficult tasks: to protect the lives and health of citizens, to restore people-to-people and business contacts, to bring the economy out of the crisis trajectory,” the president said.
The president also thanked the European Union for its support, in particular for the new EUR 1.2 billion macro-financial assistance program, which is important and timely.
In addition, according to Zelensky, Ukraine counts on cooperation with the EU in the purchase of the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is produced.
The head of state noted that Ukraine, for its part, also supported European partners. In particular, Ukrainian medics came to the aid of Italian colleagues, and Ukrainian planes delivered medical supplies to many EU countries.
“I am sure that the slogan Stronger Together is more relevant today than ever,” the president of Ukraine said.
Some 46.1% of Ukrainians believe that the country should strive to join the European Union, 13.1% in the Eurasian Economic Union, while 28.3% do not want Ukraine to join any economic alliances.
Those are the results of a survey conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) from April 26 to April 30 and presented at the Interfax-Ukraine agency.
Survey results show 41.9% of Ukrainians believe that Ukraine should strive to be a NATO member, 34.7% – a neutral state and 12% – a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
If offered U.S. or EU citizenship, 27.1% said they would leave the country to live there, while 65.1% would remain in Ukraine. Only 6.3% said they would leave for Russia. Some 86.3% said they would refuse to relocate to Russia. Offered a “bonus” of $100,000, 11.2% of respondents said they would move there.
The KIIS survey was conducted from April 26 to April 30, 2020 using the CATI method (computer-assisted telephone interviews) based on a random selection of mobile phone numbers. Some 1,500 interviews were included in the survey.
The sample is representative of the adult population of Ukraine (aged 18 years and older). It does not include Russia-occupied areas in Donbas and Crimea. The statistical error of the sample (with a probability of 0.95 and without taking into account the design effect) does not exceed 2.6% for indicators close to 50%, 2.2% for indicators close to 25%, 1.7% for indicators close to 10% and 1.1% – for indicators close to 5%.
Ukraine has strengthened its position in the EU organic market and, according to the results of 2019, took the second place out of 123 countries exporting organic food to the EU, having risen two positions compared to the previous year, OrganicInfo portal has reported, citing the European Commission’s annual report titled “EU Imports of Organic Agri-Food Products: Key Developments in 2019.”
According to the report, in 2019, 3.24 million tonnes of organic agri-food products were imported into the EU, more than 10% of which came from Ukraine. According to the results of last year, Ukrainian exports to the EU increased by 27%, to 337,860 tonnes. Mostly Ukraine supplied the EU with cereals (including wheat, excluding rice) with 76.9% of cereals were Ukrainian origin, wheat (31.8%), oilseeds (except soy, 18.2%), soy (13%), and fruits (11%). Ukraine is also among the largest exporters of oilcake, fruit juices and vegetables, which are key export products.
OrganicInfo said that in 2018, Ukraine ranked fourth in terms of organic exports to the EU, being behind China, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.
Sixty-six checkpoints on Ukraine’s border with Moldova and EU member states reopened at 0:01 a.m. on May 29 on government orders, the Ukrainian State Border Service said in a statement on Friday. The neighbors were informed about the reopening of the border checkpoints, it said.
Trans-border traffic will fully restore after neighbors reopen checkpoints in their territories, the statement said.
The agency said it would rapidly inform the public about the resumption of international travel on its website, including by means of the interactive map.
The agency said, however, that Ukraine still had quarantine restrictions on foreign travelers.
The Council of the European Union has approved a proposal of the European Commission to provide EUR 1.2 billion of micro-financial assistance to help Ukraine to cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The respective decision was taken on May 20 under the written procedure during sitting of the EU Council.
It is expected that after this Kyiv and Brussels will begin negotiations regarding the future Memorandum, which should specify the conditions for the allocation of the second tranche. Further, the Memorandum should be ratified by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, after which Ukraine will receive the first tranche in the amount of EUR 600 million, which is unconditional. The horizontal condition for obtaining macro-financial assistance is mandatory cooperation with the IMF.
On May 15, European Parliament backed the commission’s proposal.