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European Commission approves Ukraine's EU membership negotiations

European Commission approves Ukraine's EU membership negotiations European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (Photo: Getty Images)

The European Commission has published a report on the progress made by Ukraine and other candidate countries on the path to EU accession. The report recommended launching negotiations on our country's accession to the European Union, said the European Commission in its annual report.

The following sources were used in the preparation of the material: statements by the speakers and the following sources: statements by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, EC President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal, EU High Representative Josep Borrell, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi, Radio Liberty, Bloomberg.

European Commission recommends starting negotiations

At a news conference in Brussels, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the Commission recommends starting negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the EU. This applies to Moldova as well.

According to her, Ukraine has already implemented 90% of the reforms expected from it by the EU, while the condition is to continue implementing unfinished reforms in the future.

Ursula noted that significant progress has been made in the area of constitutional justice, reform of the selection process for members of the High Council of Justice, anti-corruption efforts, combating money laundering, tightening controls on oligarchs, as well as the adoption of a new media law and improving the situation of national minorities.

She added that the European Commission recommends granting Georgia the status of an EU candidate country.

EC report published

Also today, the European Commission published an official report on its website assessing Ukraine's progress on the path to the EU. Here are several theses:

  • Ukraine has a certain level of preparation in public administration reform, but little progress has been made during the reporting period. The digitalization of service delivery has reached a high level;
  • In terms of multi-level governance, the achievements of decentralization reform continue, and municipalities are the pillars of Ukraine's resilience. Overall, after the successful completion of decentralization, other elements of the reform are yet to be completed;
  • In terms of the functioning of the judiciary, Ukraine has a certain level of preparation and should continue its efforts. Despite the war of aggression by Russia, Ukraine has made significant progress in implementing the 2021 judicial reform aimed at integrity and professionalism;
  • Some progress has been made in the fight against corruption. Ukraine has stepped up reforms in this area after gaining EU candidate status;
  • Ukraine has also made progress in the fight against organized crime. Some progress has been made;
  • Regarding fundamental rights, Ukraine generally complies with international human rights instruments and has ratified most international conventions on the protection of fundamental rights;
  • The EC recommends that the European Council open accession negotiations with Ukraine and will monitor progress and compliance in all areas related to the opening of negotiations and report to the Council by March 2024.

Zelenskyy's response

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has already reacted to the European Commission's decision, noting that the history of Ukraine and the whole of Europe has made the right step.

"Our country should be in the European Union. Ukrainians deserve it both for their defense of European values and for the fact that even during a full-scale war, we keep our word by developing state institutions. We are making all the necessary decisions. I am grateful to everyone who helps!" he said.

Ukraine's path to the EU

Application for membership

It is noteworthy that at the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy applied for Ukraine to join the European Union under a special procedure on February 28, 2022.

Subsequently, Ukraine expeditiously completed two parts of the questionnaire from the European Commission to evaluate its eligibility for becoming an EU candidate.


On June 8 of last year, the European Parliament passed a resolution to extend candidacy to Ukraine. Then, on June 17, the European Commission announced its approval of Ukraine's status, along with seven requirements.

From there, the European Council granted Ukraine the status of candidate for EU accession on June 23, 2022. This was a unanimous decision supported by all bloc leaders.

The European Commission then provided its first verbal assessment of Ukraine as an EU candidate country.

Accession talks

The EC's annual report today recommends opening accession negotiations with the European Union as Ukraine progresses towards EU membership.

However, it should be noted that this is just one step in the process, as EU member states will make a formal decision in December.

The Ukrainian authorities have announced their anticipation that negotiations will commence by the end of 2023, but Ukraine must first satisfy seven European Commission recommendations to do so.

What are the requirements set by the EU

As a candidate for EU membership, Ukraine was provided a set of criteria for advancing its path toward European integration.

  • Reform of the Constitutional Court according to the recommendations of the Venice Commission;
  • Continuation of reforms of the judicial system;
  • Strengthening the fight against corruption, the appointment of a new head of the (Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office) SAPO and a new director of the (National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine) NABU;
  • Adoption of the law on combating money laundering;
  • Implementation of the anti-oligarchy law;
  • Introduction of an independent media regulator, harmonization of the legislation on audiovisual media services with the European one;
  • Finalization of the reform of the legislation on national minorities.

In September of this year, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal stated that the government had implemented all seven of the EU's recommendations. Despite this, the bloc's assessments did not fully align with the EU's opinion.

On June 22, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, said that Ukraine had fulfilled two of the seven recommendations for starting EU accession negotiations. He classified the rest as "under implementation".

At the same time, yesterday the media reported that the European Commission considers four of the seven criteria for Ukraine to start negotiations on EU accession to be fully met. In particular, there are still some remarks regarding the fight against corruption, the policy on national minorities, and limiting the influence of oligarchs.

At the same time, Bloomberg cited sources as saying that the EC may recommend starting formal negotiations with Ukraine only after it completes all reforms and takes steps to improve legislation on minorities, fight against corruption, and de-oligarchization and lobbying.

When Ukraine can become a member of the EU

Candidacy is followed by a stage of negotiations between the applicant country and the members of the European Union. The discussion is divided into dozens of sections relating to the basic laws, rights, and obligations uniting all participants of the bloc.

Only after their consistent harmonization and implementation of reforms is it possible to conclude a membership treaty. The document must be approved by the EU Council, separately by the parliaments of each country of the European Union, and by a majority vote of the European Parliament.

It should be noted that the accession process is often delayed from several years to decades.

Ukraine's Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Olha Stefanishyna, recently shared her ambitious plan for joining the EU. In her opinion, Ukraine can join the European Union within two years. The government and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have similar hopes.

The head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, who said that there is no clear timeframe for Ukraine's membership, is more cautious.

At the same time, European Council President Charles Michel suggested that the EU member states should be ready for the bloc's enlargement by 2030.

At the same time, the EU later calmed down, explaining that the term voiced by Michel is considered only as a benchmark. Because thanks to Ukraine, this process will go faster.