Brussels, 5 October 2022
It is a pleasure for me to be speaking to you today.
I of course wish I could do it under a different set of circumstances.
In the eight years since the start of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, and especially from 24 February 2022 onwards, after the escalation of the war, I believe and hope that Europe’s solidarity has been a beacon of light for the Ukrainian people.
We stand by you and we do so in the hope and belief that this horrible, bloody conflict will end with a Ukrainian victory.
Never have the ties between Ukraine and the EU been closer than today. I am glad to congratulate Ukraine on obtaining EU candidate status and I look forward to the accelerated process of starting the enlargement negotiations with Ukraine. Already in September Ukraine acceded to EU internal programmes on customs and tax cooperation (CUSTOMS and FISCALIS), marking yet another step towards accession.
During the current war, as you know, besides the bilateral military assistance that EU Member States have offered, the European Union has taken urgent measures to hinder Russia’s military capacity.
Sanctions concerning military goods, the aviation and space industry, maritime navigation and oil refinery technology, are hurting Russia’s war efforts, while those targeting major Russian exports, like iron, oil and steel are damaging its economy.
To avoid the circumvention of the sanctions, the EU has activated customs cooperation agreements to ensure that goods subject to the export ban that are exported from the EU to a partner country, cannot end up in Russia or Belarus. We are also monitoring the trade flows of EU Member States with third countries to detect potential circumvention and are taking bilateral measures to stop these trade flows if needed.
The European Commission has established Solidarity Lanes to help Ukraine export its products and import the goods it needs, from humanitarian aid to animal feed and fertilisers. By establishing alternative transport routes, increasing transport capacity and accelerating procedures at border crossings, we are supporting Ukrainian industry and trying to ensure Ukrainian citizens do not go without the products they need.
And on October 1, we celebrated Ukraine joining the Common Transit Convention. This is a momentous feat, and I must take this opportunity to congratulate Ukrainian colleagues for this absolutely Herculean task. You should be very proud of yourselves.
Your work, together with that of my services in the Commission, means that customs transit procedure with the EU will from now on be much simpler and more efficient.
Mutually recognised financial guarantees, fewer controls and access to state-of-the-art IT systems will help to cut costs for EU and Ukrainian businesses, while reducing border processing time to just seconds. This not only facilitates, but actually boosts trade.
We should however keep in mind that the Common Transit Convention will only have maximum effect if Ukrainian traders start using it widely and if vehicles transporting Common Transit goods will get priority treatment at the border and priority access to the border with the help of traffic police.
The success of using the Common Transit procedure depends on the close cooperation of different Ukrainian services.
Accession to the Common Transit Convention is an important step – but we will not stop here. We can further increase Ukraine’s to the EU internal market through the mutual recognition of Authorised Economic Operators programs. The more Ukrainian traders becoming Authorised Economic Operators, the faster negotiations can start for a Mutual Recognition agreement.
As you see, progress is being made even in these trying times.
So I want to thank you for your courage, for your drive and for your cooperation.
I very much look forward to continue working with you on customs particularly in the context of the enlargement negotiations.
Source – EU Commission