Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/ukraine : Seeking New Ways to Cooperate in Civil Protection

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/ukraine : Seeking New Ways to Cooperate in Civil Protection

Article excerpt

How can the cooperation agreement on civil protection and response to disasters be reinforced and improved? This was the main question debated during the meeting, on 17 March in Brussels, between the Ukrainian Emergency Situations Minister, Volodymyr Shandra, and EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. Though the objective of this meeting was to assess the possibilities for improving the current agreement, it was "difficult to avoid discussing the Chernobyl issue," Shandra told Europolitics New Neighbours.

IMPROVING 2007 AGREEMENT

Ukraine is determined to move towards the EU. Shandra spoke of his government's effort to progressively integrate EU directives, particularly those on the environment. Linked to the EU through a partnership agreement, Kiev is now negotiating for its reinforcement. The action plan, adopted on 7 March during the joint EU-Ukraine meeting, identifies in this framework the open questions on the environment (air and water quality, waste management and nature protection). It also alludes to the cooperation agreement on civil protection signed in May 2007, whose reinforcement is one of the dossiers currently under negotiation. Though Ukraine wants to eventually join as a full member, the question was not brought up from this angle, says the European Commission.

This agreement has been implemented since November 2007, as Kiev called on it during the shipwreck of several freighters in the Kerch Strait (between the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea) on 11 November. On this occasion, the EU sent a team of experts under the European civil protection mechanism. While taking account of the progress made - from an entirely military structure, the Ukrainian mechanism has changed over to a civil' structure (except regarding satellite surveillance) - there are still large problems "to which we must find solutions," stressed Dimas to the Ukrainian minister. According to a source close to the Commission, this first experiment underscored great difficulties both in providing information and in the cooperation itself. …

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