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Politico: EU to start Ukraine membership talks by December

According to the officials, EU leaders are preparing to give Kyiv the green light by the end of the year to start formal membership talks.
EU Ukraine flags
Ukraine, EU flags on Kyiv’s central street Khreshchatyk. Credit: giz.de
Politico: EU to start Ukraine membership talks by December

The European Union is preparing to launch accession negotiations with Ukraine and will formally announce it in December, Politico reported, citing three unnamed diplomats familiar with the bloc’s plans.

According to the officials, EU leaders are preparing to give Kyiv the green light by the end of the year to start formal membership talks.

In November, the European Commission is set to issue a report on how well aspiring member countries are meeting the conditions to join the bloc. Once that progress report gets approved, the European Commission will make a statement that will make it “very hard for member states not to say let’s open negotiations,” one source told Politico.

“The political push around that will just be too big for individual member states to resist. The working assumption is indeed that by December, the European Council will decide to open negotiations.” the diplomat said.

Though Ukraine may not yet meet all seven required benchmarks when leaders convene for a summit in mid-December, the EU intends to make a political statement endorsing talks, even if the legal frameworks are not yet fully defined, the article notes.

The aim is to agree politically in December on the start of negotiations,” a second unnamed diplomat said, adding the legal decision on admitting Ukraine could come by early 2024.

A third diplomat stated leaders will “send a positive signal” about Ukraine’s future membership in December.

When asked how far along Ukraine was in meeting the seven criteria, the EU representative replied that “progress was encouraging,” with only the area concerning minorities seeming “problematic” short-term.

Earlier, Bloomberg wrote that “people who asked not to be named” said the European Commission will recommend launching Ukraine’s accession process to the EU in October. Member states will discuss the commission’s recommendation in December. In case of agreement between the EU leaders, accession talks with Ukraine will begin.

Overwhelming majority of Ukrainians support Ukraine’s membership in NATO and EU – poll

On 17 June 2022, the European Commission issued an opinion recommending that Ukraine be granted EU candidate status, following Ukraine’s application submitted on 28 February 2022 – the fifth day of Russia’s full-scale aggression.

On 23 June 2022, the EU granted Ukraine EU candidate status. To maintain this status, Ukraine has to demonstrate progress in seven steps, with the first one to be assessed by the end of 2022.

On 20 September 2023, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, approved a new version of the law on restoring e-declarations with an amendment stating that declarations will become publicly accessible immediately. The adoption of this law is necessary for Ukraine, in particular, to start negotiations on accession to the EU. On 30 January 2023, the ambassadors of the G7 and EU countries called on Ukraine to quickly adopt the State Anti-Corruption Program and resume e-declarations and financial reporting by political parties.

Verkhovna Rada passed the national minorities law on 21 September, legislation mentioned among the European Commission’s recommendations for granting EU candidate status. On 12 June, the Venice Commission published a critical assessment of Ukraine’s minority law, with most recommendations on minority language use under Article 10. It urged extending the right to hold minority language events to all people and removing or reconsidering the requirement to provide Ukrainian translation.

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