BRUSSELS, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) and Ukraine agreed to sign the Association Agreement by November 2013, said a joint statement issued by the two sides on Monday.
"The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the signing of the already initialed Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, as soon as determined action and tangible progress are demonstrated in the three areas emphasized at the 2011 EU-Ukraine Summit, possibly by the time of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius in November 2013," said the statement following the 16th EU-Ukraine Summit.
According to the statement, the EU also set the deadline for Ukraine to complete its reforms by early May this year, especially in the area of election legislation.
The EU urged Ukraine to take early steps to establish a reliable electoral legislation by giving consideration to an Election Code and clear rules for balanced media access for electoral competitors.
The leaders of both sides stressed that the rule of law with an independent judiciary is a critical element underpinning the Association Agreement, and they emphasized the importance of their effective implementation and the need for a comprehensive reform of the judiciary in line with European standards.
The EU and Ukraine initialed a political association agreement on March 30 last year, in a landmark move towards the country's integration into the 27-member bloc. The deal would allow Ukraine access to the union's free trade area which also includes non-EU nations such as Norway and Switzerland.