“One country cannot at the same time be a member of a customs union and be in a deep common free-trade area with the European Union,” said Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm. “This is not possible.”
But that appeared to be what Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is hoping to achieve. Ukraine, he said, is in negotiations with Russia to “find the right model” for cooperation with the customs union. And he said, as well, that Ukraine’s pro-EU course had been set by law and could not now be changed.
Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus are members of a Customs Union that envisages closer economic integration, in a manner similar to the European Union, with free movement of goods. That would make a free-trade agreement between the EU and Ukraine in effect a free-trade agreement with those other countries as well.