European Interest

EU shuts down border projects in Ukraine

Flickr/Kai Hendry/CC BY 2.0
A view of the Polish-Ukrainian border.

The European Union is scrapping a border checkpoint scheme with Ukraine. It was aimed at helping Ukraine’s economy integrate with those of its EU neighbours by building and modernising six checkpoints with Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania.

According to the EU, the projects were designed to cut border crossing times and improve customs procedures.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, the projects foundered after a series of delays, missteps and cost overruns involving local officials and contractors. This is based on internal Ukrainian government correspondence, and correspondence between the European Commission and the Kiev authorities provided to Reuters by a source at a government body.

In a statement to Reuters, an EU spokesperson said: “Following our assessment we concluded that the projects could not be finalised in time. The 6 projects are now in the process of being closed, and the unspent money reimbursed”.

One senior European diplomat who is involved in dealing with Ukraine said: “There is a certain Ukraine fatigue. People are exasperated by the lack of reform, especially on corruption. Things have stalled”.

But he said the EU would keep supporting the country, which remains fragile four years after Russia annexed Crimea and pro-Moscow separatists launched a rebellion in the east.

As of the end of 2017, none of the six checkpoint projects had been completed, even though the EU was providing €29.2m in funding.

According to Reuters, Ukraine’s State Fiscal Service (DFS), the tax and customs authority which oversaw the projects on the Ukraine side, said in a statement that reasons for the delays included staff changes at the service along with the long time taken to issue contract tenders and win approval for changes to plans.

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