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EU to increase funding for Ukraine and other candidates to speed up accession

EU to increase funding for Ukraine and other candidates to speed up accession Olivér Várhelyi (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

The European Commission is set to propose that the European Union allocate more funds to countries seeking membership and offer them access to the single market in order to expedite their preparations for EU accession, according to the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi.

Currently, eight countries hold official candidate status for EU membership, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Türkiye, and Ukraine. Additionally, Georgia and Kosovo are considered potential candidate countries.

"In a couple of weeks time you will see us presenting a new way of thinking about enlargement and a package that will now include 10 candidate countries, or countries with a European perspective," Várhelyi said following a meeting of EU ministers in Spain, where they discussed how the EU should prepare for the admission of new members.

The EU aims to provide funding for accelerated integration. Várhelyi emphasized that the EU would seek to assist candidates in preparing for EU membership through a Western Balkans Growth Plan, with the goal of narrowing the "economic and social gap" between these countries and the rest of the EU before their accession.

According to this scheme, the countries would gradually get access to the EU's single market of 450 million consumers, where goods, services, labour and capital can move freely, even before becoming full EU members.

"We want to create the opportunity to gradually integrate these countries into the single market, into the four freedoms, already before accession, because this will be for the benefit of both the European Union and for the candidate countries," Várhelyi said.

He added that the European Commission's proposal would also require a larger allocation of EU funds to candidates to help expedite the necessary reforms for EU membership. The specific amounts have not been disclosed.

These measures demonstrate that the EU is ready to welcome new members and places the responsibility on candidate countries to fully utilize these opportunities, according to Várhelyi.

Ukraine's EU accession

The European Commission is preparing to recommend the start of negotiations for Ukraine's accession to the European Union. This decision will then need approval from EU leaders in December.

Following this, Ukraine will embark on a lengthy process of implementing reforms and aligning with EU legislation in over 30 areas, including the rule of law and the economy.

Previously, European Union President Charles Michel called for the EU to be ready to admit new members, with candidates prepared to meet the accession criteria by 2030.