European Commission recommends start of accession negotiations for Ukraine
The European Commission has recommended negotiations begin on Ukraine's accession to the EU. Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced the proposal to the member states at a press conference on Wednesday. Despite the ongoing war with Russia, Ukraine has made sufficient progress to begin discussions.
"Today is a historic day as the European Commission recommends that member mtates open accession negotiations with Ukraine," Von der Leyen said, “Ukrainians are deeply transforming their country even as they wage an existential war.”
Initially, Ukraine was not at the front of the queue for negotiations over membership. However, following the Russian invasion in February 2022, the country received candidate country status in June 2022.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was asked to adhere to seven reforms put forth by the Commission to strengthen the rule of law and tackle widespread corruption in Ukraine before further discussions could begin.
On Wednesday, the Commission ruled that four of those conditions had been met. There is still work to be done on combating corruption, limiting the power of oligarchs and protecting national minorities. Von der Leyen wants the government in Kyiv to take the necessary measures before the negotiating framework is established. The Commission will report on this in March.
It is now up to member states to decide unanimously at a summit in Brussels in December about the start of negotiations. Regardless of the outcome, a years-long process will follow in which Ukraine must demonstrate that it can meet all criteria in terms of democracy and the rule of law, adopt all European legislation and remain economically viable in the single market.
Ursula von der Leyen at the EU headquarters in Brussels © PHOTO JOHN THYS / AFP