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Ukraine aims to start EU accession talks in first half of year - Ukrainian PM

Ukraine aims to start EU accession talks in first half of year - Ukrainian PM Photo: Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal (Vitalii Nosach, RBC-Ukraine)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

Ukraine expects negotiations on accession to the European Union to begin in the first half of 2024, according to Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

"We are waiting and wishing to have approval by the European Council at their closest meeting [this week], and believe we can begin accession negotiations in the first half of this year," he says.

Last week, the European Commission sent member states a draft framework for negotiating Ukraine's accession in line with the decision of EU leaders in December.

"We hope that our European partners will approve it without any additional amendments as the European Commission proposes," the Prime Minister says.

According to Shmyhal, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, called 2030 a possible target year for further EU enlargement. "but we will do our best for Ukraine that it could happen earlier, immediately after our victory," the Prime Minister says.

He added: "We will execute our homework in a very fast way – I believe that it will take us not more than two years."

More benefits than costs

Asked if he was worried that the application would face resistance from several EU member states because of the high costs, Shmyhal replies: "Ukraine will bring to the EU much more than the process of joining will cost."

A recent report by the Bruegel think tank, as well as internal EU documents, estimates the financial costs of Ukraine's accession to the EU's seven-year budget at €110-136 billion, which is about 0.10-0.13% of the bloc's GDP.

"We’ve seen the reports, but the Ukrainian market, the Ukrainian Defence Forces, the Ukrainian raw and critical materials, and other sectors could bring much more in terms of security and economic benefits," Shmyhal says.

Process of Ukraine's accession to EU

In December 2023, at a summit in Brussels, EU leaders approved the start of negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the European Union.

Negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the EU have not yet begun, as Ukrainian legislation is being screened for compliance with EU requirements and a negotiating framework is being formed.

The European Commission has already approved the negotiation framework for Ukraine's accession to the EU.

In an interview with RBC-Ukraine, EU Ambassador to Ukraine Katarina Mathernova said that negotiations could start in the spring.