The European Union is preparing to begin talks with Ukraine regarding its potential membership in the organization, with an official announcement anticipated in December.
Based on information from three diplomats, officials are getting ready to authorize Kyiv to initiate official discussions about joining the 27-country bloc before the year ends.
Ukraine is at the heart of a major new push to expand the EU to as many as 35 countries. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in her annual address to Parliament last month that Ukraine’s future was “in the Union.”
According to an EU official who spoke to journalists on Tuesday, in June, EU countries approved Kyiv’s status as a candidate for EU membership. The Commission is set to release a “progress report” in November, evaluating how well Ukraine and other potential members are fulfilling the requirements for joining the bloc.
After the progress report is approved, an EU diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, stated that the Commission will issue a statement that will make it difficult for member states to not begin negotiations with Ukraine. The political pressure surrounding this decision will be significant and it is expected that by December, the European Council will vote to open negotiations.
The decision to initiate official negotiations for Ukraine’s membership into the European Union carries significant political and legal implications. Prior to beginning talks, Ukraine must fulfill seven conditions outlined by the Commission, which includes implementing judicial reforms and addressing corruption. In August, the Ukrainian government reported that only two of the seven conditions had been satisfied.
Although not all seven conditions may have been met by the time of the summit in mid-December, it is expected that political leaders will still authorize negotiations, even if the legal framework is not completely finalized. According to a second diplomat, the goal is to reach a political agreement in December to begin negotiations, with a potential legal decision on admitting Ukraine possibly being made by early 2024.
A third diplomatic representative stated that in December, leaders will convey a positive message regarding Ukraine’s potential membership in the future.
The progress of Ukraine in meeting the seven criteria was discussed and an EU representative stated that there has been positive advancement. However, the issue of minority rights remains a concern for the immediate future.
Reporting was provided by Sarah Anne Aarup.