Ukraine wants to join the EU as quickly as possible, but accession negotiations must first begin. The EU Commission has now released an eagerly awaited report on the subject.
Ukraine can hope for a quick start to negotiations on joining the European Union. According to information from the German Press Agency, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to present a positive assessment of the country’s reform progress in Brussels today. It is also planned to officially recommend the governments of the EU states to start accession negotiations.
Accordingly, the EU Commission assumes that outstanding reform steps can be completed by Ukraine in a short time and are not a reason to postpone the fundamental decision on the start of accession negotiations. The approval of the heads of state and government of the EU states could thus take place at the EU summit on December 14th and 15th, as the government in Kiev had hoped.
In order to ensure that Ukraine checks off the conditions that have not yet been fulfilled, it would probably then be agreed to make further necessary decisions for the negotiations dependent on this. The formal start of negotiations within the framework of the first accession conference could therefore still be a long time coming.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky assured the EU of further reforms ahead of the hoped-for recommendation for accession negotiations. Ukraine is working on new laws and strengthening its state institutions in order to introduce EU standards in the country, he said in his evening video message broadcast in Kiev on Tuesday.
Ukraine submitted its application to join the EU on February 28 last year, shortly after the start of the Russian invasion. The heads of state and government of the EU states then granted the country candidate status on June 24, 2022. At the same time, it was agreed at the time that a decision on further steps would only be taken when seven criteria recommended by the EU Commission had been met.
They are about strengthening the fight against corruption – especially at high levels. The EU also demands that standards in the fight against money laundering be adhered to and that a law against the excessive influence of oligarchs be implemented.
Open points are known
Von der Leyen said during a visit to Kiev at the weekend that she knew that some reforms were still being worked on. However, she is confident that the ambitious goal of opening the accession negotiations process this year can be achieved. As examples of outstanding issues, she cited a more vigorous fight against corruption, the adoption of a new law on lobbying activities and the tightening of regulations on the declaration of assets.
Von der Leyen also made it clear that, in her view, the special situation of Ukraine should also be taken into account when deciding whether to start accession negotiations. “The whole of Europe owes you deep gratitude for everything you have done since the beginning of this brutal war,” she said in Kiev, addressing the Ukrainian people. “You are fighting not only for your own freedom, democracy and future, but also for ours.”
Hope also for Moldova and Bosnia-Herzegovina
In addition to Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia as well as the Western Balkan states Montenegro, Albania, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Kosovo are also being evaluated by the EU Commission as candidates for EU membership. A report is also planned on Turkey, but the accession process has been on hold for years due to constitutional deficits.
According to dpa information, based on the reports, Moldova and, to a limited extent, Bosnia-Herzegovina can also hope for the start of EU accession negotiations – and Georgia for accession candidate status. Of the six Western Balkan states, only the Republic of Kosovo is now not an official candidate for membership. Accession negotiations are already underway with Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania.
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