The European Commission has announced a historic decision regarding Ukraine's membership in the EU: details

Kseniya KapustynskaNews
The European Commission has released a report on Ukraine's progress in implementing the recommendations for EU membership
The European Commission has released a report on Ukraine's progress in implementing the recommendations for EU membership

The European Commission (EC) recommended on November 8th the start of negotiations for Ukraine's membership in the European Union (EU). The process is expected to be initiated in late March 2024. There will be no accelerated accession procedure, and Ukraine will need to make progress in certain areas.

The Government of Ukraine has already officially received the European Commission's report on Ukraine as part of the EU Enlargement Package from the EU Ambassador to Ukraine, Katarina Mathernova. This document recommends the initiation of negotiations for Ukraine's accession to the European Union, as confirmed by Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

Ukraine has received a report from the European Commission

"Another historic step for the citizens of Ukraine in their aspirations for European integration. Today, we have adopted the Enlargement Package for 2023. Despite the ongoing war, Ukraine has demonstrated its determination to make substantial progress in creating a strong reform momentum. We recommend the European Council to initiate negotiations on Ukraine's accession," stated the European Commission.

According to the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, Ukraine has implemented 90% of the reforms expected by the EU. However, it is also a condition that Ukraine continues to implement ongoing reforms.

"Significant progress has been made in areas like constitutional justice, reform of the High Council of Justice selection process, anti-corruption initiatives, measures to combat money laundering, actions against oligarchs, as well as the new media law and progress on national minorities. Ukrainians are deeply committed to reforming their country and preparing for EU membership, even amidst an existential war," von der Leyen stated.

The decision was welcomed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi. "Today, Ukraine and the whole of Europe have taken a crucial step - the European Commission has recommended starting membership negotiations with Ukraine. Our country belongs in the European Union. Ukrainians deserve it for their defense of European values and their dedication to developing state institutions even during a full-scale war. We are taking all necessary measures," Zelenskyi emphasized.

The European Commission (EC) has also published an annual report that generally addresses EU enlargement. In 2023, Ukraine was included in the report for the first time, as it officially became an EU candidate on June 23, 2022, and has now spent more than a year in this status.

"The Commission recommends that the Council of the EU opens accession negotiations with Ukraine and will monitor progress and compliance in all areas related to the opening of negotiations, reporting to the Council by March 2024," the report states.

While being a candidate, Ukraine was required to fulfill seven sets of conditions. Even though the Cabinet of Ministers assures that all requirements at the governmental level have been met, some of the criteria still come with recommendations for further implementation.

"At the governmental level, we have met all seven recommendations of the European Commission and are committed to the process of transforming the state to make Ukraine an equal, strong, and full member of the European Union. We appreciate our European partners' recognition of the reforms and their collaborative work on our path to the EU," said Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

According to the EU, more progress is still needed in areas like the fight against corruption, limiting the influence of oligarchs, and legislation related to national minorities. The EC recommends that the EU Council approve the relevant negotiation framework with Ukraine after a set of requirements are met:

  • Approve the government's draft law to increase the number of National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine staff.
  • Eliminate legislative loopholes that limit the National Agency on Corruption Prevention's powers (pertaining to verifying assets acquired before entering the civil service, which have already been verified).
  • Adopt a law on lobbying that aligns with European standards.
  • Address the Venice Commission's feedback on the law related to national minorities and related laws (on language, education, etc.).
  • Continue the fight against corruption through investigations.

"To ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of anti-corruption efforts, Ukraine should continue to build a record of official investigations, prosecutions, and final judgments in high-level corruption cases, including the seizure and confiscation of criminal assets. It is also necessary to continue the timely and strict implementation of the state anti-corruption program for 2023-2025," the EU recommends.

The report also highlights the need to continue reforming the electoral legal framework in accordance with the unimplemented recommendations of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

"Ukraine has achieved a certain level of readiness in the field of public administration reform, but progress made during the reporting period has been limited. While the Ukrainian public administration proved its resilience during the full-scale invasion, reforms have slowed or stalled in several sectors, including merit-based recruitment and selection, job classification and salary reform, and the rollout of the human resources management information system," the document indicates.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi pointed out that Ukraine is already preparing for further steps, including legislative work and the strengthening of state institutions. "For Ukraine, the EU signifies economic security and social stability, while for the EU, Ukraine's accession means strengthening the entire community. It is crucial for members of the Ukrainian Parliament to continue supporting the legislative initiatives necessary for our European integration," Zelenskyi emphasized.

In the same document, the European Commission recommends initiating a similar process for Moldova. As for Georgia, negotiations regarding its EU candidate status will continue, potentially starting in 2024.

Furthermore, alongside the invitation to Ukraine and Moldova, EU member countries are pushing for reforms within the bloc itself. According to Politico, countries such as Germany, France, Spain, and Portugal support these reforms.

"They fear that without further steps toward reform, the EU could expand to include 30 or more members without a coherent plan for effective functioning. It could resemble something like Frankenstein's monster or even the United Nations, or worse," the article suggests.

As previously reported by OBOZ.UA, on November 1, President Volodymyr Zelenskyi expressed Ukraine's ambition to reach a political decision on EU membership by the end of 2023. This reflects Kyiv's optimistic outlook on joining the united European family.

Ukraine has also submitted a draft plan to the European Commission under the Ukraine Facility program, which would provide our country with a record €50 billion in economic assistance. The plan outlines four main areas of work that Ukraine should pursue.

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