ACAA – now at the top of the Ukraine–EU Agenda

17. March 2021

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA) is high on the agenda of Ukrainian relations with the European Union. The Agreement aims to reduce technical barriers to mutual trade. Different health and safety standards for industrial goods are one of the main obstacles to trade. There is also a question about trust in the quality of the work of other countries relevant institutions.

The conclusion of an ACAA is foreseen in the Ukraine–EU Association Agreement. Together with other trade measures, it will deepen the integration of Ukraine with the Internal Market of the EU.

An ACAA is a version of the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA), where sides recognise the other side’s institutions’ decisions on the technical quality of industrial products. In an ACAA, the partner also takes over EU standards and norms of conformity assessment and market surveillance bodies in particular areas. The Union has at the moment only one ACAA – with Israel.

Annex III to the Ukraine–EU Association Agreement lists 27 possible sectors for an ACAA, covering up to 20 per cent of Ukrainian industrial goods exported to the EU. In the beginning, Ukraine aims to have an initial ACAA, which covers only three sectors. Later, the EU and Ukraine may move on and add other sectors when they are ready.

Ukraine has been making intensive preparations for an ACAA for several years. It has radically overhauled its standards and abolished an absolute majority of the Soviet-era standards (GOSTs). Ukrainian conformity assessment and market surveillance bodies are built following the EU models and are active participants in international cooperation.

At the end of 2019, the EU stated readiness to start the process leading to negotiating and signing an ACAA with Ukraine. From October 2020 until the end of March 2021, an EU assessment mission works with Ukrainian authorities to prepare a report. A positive assessment will pave the way for official negotiations.

The President of Ukraine has set a target of two years for the Agreement. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal expressed hope after the EU–Ukraine Association Council of 11 February 2021 that the sides may sign an ACAA already during this year.

Ukrainian politicians and experts call the ACAA an “industrial visa-free regime”, showing its importance and making a rather technical issue more understandable to the people.

Ukrainian experience is essential also for Georgia and Moldova, as their Association Agreements similarly foresee the signing of an ACAA. When concluded, the Ukraine–EU ACAA will be an excellent achievement for the Eastern Partnership, which needs real success stories at the beginning of its second decade.

Please read the full analysis by ECEAP Senior Research Fellow Raul Mälk here: ACAA – now at the top of the Ukraine–EU Agenda