EU wants economic plan from Kiev before hosting donors' meeting

By Adrian Croft BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union is refusing to organise a donors' conference to help cash-strapped Ukraine until Kiev produces a detailed blueprint for the country's economic development, a top EU official said on Friday. Brussels has said previously it was ready to host a donors' conference to raise funds for Ukraine, particularly eastern regions torn by a separatist uprising. But Johannes Hahn, the new EU commissioner in charge of the bloc's enlargement and relations with neighbours, said it was reluctant to set a date without a more detailed plan. "They asked to have it as soon as possible. They even wanted to have it before Christmas. We were crystal clear on that -- as long as they don't come forward with a strategic concept about the future development of the country, we are not willing to fix a date," Hahn told reporters. The EU was ready to see the conference take place as early as possible next year but only if Ukraine first had a sound strategy, including economic targets and priority areas for investment, the Austrian commissioner said. The EU granted trade privileges and billions of euros of loans to Kiev after protests that brought down former pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich. But amid some frustration in Brussels over its dealings with Kiev, the EU is urging Ukraine to speed up political and economic reforms. Hahn held out Brussels' stance on the donors' conference as an example of a new tougher, more self-interested policy the EU plans to pursue towards its neighbours and countries seeking to join the EU under new Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. In tune with many EU voters who are weary of the EU's rapid expansion to 28 countries, Juncker has said no new countries will join the EU during his five-year term. Hahn said the EU should not be shy about setting conditions in return for commitments it makes to other countries. He said he saw no reason to make any changes to the text of an EU-Ukraine free-trade agreement, whose implementation has been delayed in the face of opposition from Russia, which Ukraine accuses of backing rebels in the country's east. On Turkey's long-stalled bid to join the EU, Hahn said he favoured opening talks on two new areas of enlargement negotiations dealing with rule of law and the judiciary. (Editing by Catherine Evans)