Ukraine and EU launch 'historic' accession negotiations

The European Union and Ukraine officially launched accession negotiations in Luxembourg on Tuesday, in what both sides described as a historic moment. 

"This is a historic day for Ukraine and the EU," Belgian Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib, who leads the EU delegation, said before the start of the intergovernmental conference, praising the steps Ukraine has already taken. 

Ukraine is represented at the talks by its deputy prime minister, Olga Stefanishyna. “When history placed Ukraine before the choice of their development, the people consistently opted for European integration,” she said in her opening remarks. 

Transformative power

The EU long kept Ukraine's European ambitions at bay, but the Russian invasion in 2022 has accelerated the process. Several months after the invasion, EU leaders promoted Ukraine as a candidate member country. In December last year, they also greenlit the start of membership negotiations. 

“Ukraine’s progress towards EU integration is a clear example of a transformative power of the European Union, and reinforcing the European Union role in promoting stability, prosperity and democratic governance in the region and globally," Stefanishyna said ahead of the first talks.

"Let's be fair and honest, the road will be long and it will not always be easy ...You are not alone. We are with you"

“We firmly believe that the initiation of accession negotiations today mark a historic milestone of our relationship, but it’s only a beginning of the longer way we will go through together."

Negotiations will start with a screening of Ukrainian legislation and its compatibility with European legislation, which usually takes a year or more. The entire negotiation process traditionally takes many years.

"Let's be fair and honest, the road will be long and it will not always be easy," Lahbib said after the end of the first session. She added that the EU would support Ukraine every step of the way. "You are not alone. We are with you," she said.


Olga Stefanishyna and Hadja Lahbib during a press conference after the Intergovernmental Conference on the accession of Ukraine, 25 June 2024 © PHOTO JEAN-CRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP

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