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The AAs have a dual purpose: to enable political association and economic integration with the EU and promote the modernisation of Ukraine. The key instrument to achieve these goals is the ‘export of law’ from the EU to Ukraine. By signing the AAs, Ukraine has made a far-reaching commitment to amend its laws to align with those of the EU. Thus, the EU’s transformative engagement is centred on the export of the acquis communautaire. This process of ‘export of law’ is usually referred to as legal approximation.

The AA is often regarded as a ready-made legal template for reforms and the pathway to modernisation. Indeed, the acquis itself is seen as a blueprint for both domestic reforms and integration with the EU. Yet this view is misleading. Certainly, the acquis is one of the most advanced, efficient and reputable regulatory frameworks in the world. However, for Ukraine, lacking as it does a strong state and economy, the implementation of AA presents significant challenges even at the fundamental level of what, why, when and how to implement.

The issue is compounded by the diverse nature of the AA: while the main body of the agreement contains mainly general, soft-law clauses, the trade, economic and sectoral sections are accompanied by detailed and extensive annexes. Collectively, the AA is a hugely complex document, which exceeds the capacity and capability of Ukraine to implement it.

This paper will elucidate on the challenges the AA presents Ukraine, and will offer some recommendations as to how these challenges may be overcome. It will be seen that at the heart of the solution lies better planning and coordination both across government and between the AA implementation process and the reform process Ukraine has undertaken. It is worth adding that this is more of planning and coordination issue than a resource issue.

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