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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has welcomed his Ukrainian counterpart to Downing Street today to reaffirm his support for the eastern European nation in the face of Russian aggression. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has met Mr Johnson as part of his first ever visit to the UK, with the two set to sign a Strategic Partnership Agreement to signal cooperation and free trade. Announcing the agreement, Mr Johnson said that the UK is “Ukraine’s most fervent supporter”.
He added: “Whether it’s our defence support, stabilisation efforts, humanitarian assistance or close cooperation on political issues, our message is clear: ‘we are utterly committed to upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.’”
The new agreement the leaders will sign represents a growing convergence between the UK”s trade and foreign policy since Brexit.
Hailing the partnership to be signed with Ukraine that includes a comprehensive preferential free trade agreement as well as a commitment to recognising Ukraine’s sovereignty, Mr Johnson said it represents “the next chapter in our relationship”.
Not only will the new partnership be good for Brexit Britain, but unearthed reports suggest the move is also highly damaging to Brussels.
Since the EU referendum on June 23, 2016, the bloc has tried to push for Britain to follow a “Ukraine Plus” model and establish a relationship with Brussels similar to that of the Eastern European state.
In 2017, Guy Verhofstadt, Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group, said an association agreement between Britain and the EU based on Article 217 of the Lisbon Treaty would have been “the best solution”.
Article 217 association agreement “often replaces a cooperation agreement thereby intensifying the relations between the partners”, according to the European External Action Service.
The Lisbon Treaty article, already enforced between the EU and Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Egypt and several other nations, including Ukraine, states: “The Union may conclude with one or more third countries or international organisations agreements establishing an association involving reciprocal rights and obligations, common action and special procedure.”
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Being an associate member of the bloc would mean paying a membership fee instead of signing a free trade agreement.
Moreover, it would mean Britain would still be under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
Criticising the model, former President of the European Free Trade Area Carl Baudenbacher said in an entry for the London School of Economics (LSE)’s blog: “Under Trajan the Roman Empire, at its greatest extent, encompassed the entire Mediterranean region, but also parts of present-day Germany, Britain, Romania, Turkey, Syria and Armenia.
“The European Union is preparing to build a similar empire. Roman law played an important role in the expansion of the Roman Empire; and the EU relies on the export of its law, and the extraterritorial effect of the case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
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“The EU has concluded bilateral association treaties with four former Soviet republics, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Armenia, under which these countries are aligning their legislation in important fields with EU law.
“The ECJ has a monopoly in the interpretation of treaty law which is identical in substance to EU law.”
However, not only did Britain opt against the Ukraine Model when negotiating with the bloc – but when striking a deal with the Eastern European nation, London improved the existing EU-Ukraine Agreement, promising to recognise the country’s sovereignty.
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