EU prepares to start negotiations on Ukraine's accession in December - Estonian Foreign Ministry
The European Union plans to officially announce the start of negotiations on Ukraine's accession in December 2023
Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna confirmed this to Suspilne.
"The big question is that we have to start the negotiation process, the official negotiation process with Ukraine on joining the European Union at the end of this year. This is a very specific, very precise process that is ongoing," Tsahkna said.
This was first reported by Politico.
According to three anonymous diplomats familiar with the EU's plans, the European Commission is to issue a report in November on the fulfillment of the accession conditions by Ukraine and other applicant countries.
According to one of the officials, after the report is published, the European Commission will announce the start of accession talks with Ukraine. After that, the European Council will initiate them in December.
"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 source told Politico.
To start the talks, Ukraine must fulfill seven conditions set by the European Commission, including judicial reform and the fight against corruption. According to Politico, as of August, only two conditions had been met.
Nevertheless, EU leaders intend to make a political statement authorizing negotiations even if the legal negotiating framework is not yet finalized.
"The aim is to agree politically in December on the start of negotiations," said another diplomat, adding that a legal decision on this issue will be made in early 2024.
The third diplomat said that leaders in December will "send a positive signal" on Ukraine's future membership.
Asked how far Ukraine has come toward fulfilling the seven criteria, an EU official said that progress was encouraging and only one area, concerning minorities, seemed problematic in the short term.
Ukraine's accession to the EU: what is known
Kyiv applied for EU membership on February 28, 2022, at the start of Russia’s full-scale war on Ukraine.
On June 23, 2022, Ukraine was granted candidate status for EU membership.
In May, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that Ukraine should be ready to join the EU in two years – the country expects to receive a political decision to start accession negotiations this year.
According to Espreso's sources, the European Parliament is considering the possibility of starting negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the EU this fall.
However, on August 17, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna said that Ukraine would not be able to implement all 7 EU recommendations by October, as these are changes that have been implemented over the years.
On August 28, European Council President Charles Michel said that the European Union should be ready to accept new member states by 2030. The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, expressed support for setting a tentative ‘time target’ for new members to join the EU.
On September 8, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said it was important that negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the EU begin by the end of this year. A clear European perspective will inspire Ukrainians on the battlefield.
On September 21, the head of the Servant of the People parliamentary faction, Davyd Arakhamia, said that the Ukrainian parliament has passed 99.9% of what is needed to start negotiations on EU membership.