Belgian EU presidency aims to open accession talks with Ukraine before July

The Belgian EU presidency wants to start accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova before the end of June, Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib said on Tuesday.

Accession negotiations with a candidate country start with an intergovernmental conference. "We are still determined to organise this intergovernmental conference during our presidency before the end of June, both with Ukraine and Moldova," Lahbib told a meeting of European affairs ministers in Brussels.

"We are still determined to organise this intergovernmental conference during our presidency"

France, Sweden, Ireland and Finland argued that accession negotiations with the two countries should be opened before the end of the Belgian presidency. Hungary, which believes that the conditions for opening negotiations have not been met and has made several attempts to delay the talks, will take over the presidency in July.

Stumbling block

The leaders of the 27 member states gave the green light for negotiations to begin in December. The decision was taken when Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban briefly left the room. By doing so, he was able to avoid using his veto, without having to fully endorse the decision.

Before accession negotiations can begin, member states must unanimously agree on a negotiating framework. Hungary is the main stumbling block in these negotiations.

EU enlargement has become a political priority since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Nine countries currently have candidate status: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine.


Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky, Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo and European Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen © BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE

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