The executive body of the European Union will recommend on Wednesday that the bloc opens membership negotiations with Kyiv once Ukraine has fulfilled the remaining conditions, two EU officials confirm.
According to a French diplomat, there is a “clear consensus” on the matter and it is of utmost importance for EU authorities that Ukraine moves quickly towards the Union.
In Kyiv, a senior government official stated that Ukraine expected the European Commission to give a “positive” assessment of the country’s membership application. There are seven areas of reform that will be assessed and will form the basis for the decision on whether or not to open formal membership negotiations with Ukraine.
Both EU officials said the recommendations mean that formal negotiations with Kyiv – and another EU candidate, Moldova – could begin next year.
They added that the commission’s report, which will also cover the progress of other EU candidates towards membership, still needs to be finalized before it is officially published. Membership negotiations usually take several years for candidates to meet the extensive legal and economic criteria to join, and the bloc is generally cautious about admitting a country at war.
“Very strong” support
For Ukraine, a former Soviet republic of about 44 million people that sits between Russia and the EU, promoting integration with the Western world is a high priority, Reuters reports. Ukraine’s approach to the EU is also described as a “geo-strategic necessity”.
– The consensus is clear, a French diplomat said, adding that support for Ukraine was still “very solid” within the EU and that the union could not afford to lose out to Russia.
During a visit to Kyiv, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen also claimed that Ukraine had made “progress in its reform work” and that the country had met over 90 percent of the conditions set for starting formal membership negotiations.
“No gray zones”
Among the reforms Ukraine has yet to complete are stepping up the fight against corruption, passing laws against lobbying, and tightening asset declaration rules.
– There will be no grey geo-political zones in Europe. We will secure a new basis for growth and development of Ukraine and all European countries. We will guarantee to our country and citizens real economic and social security, said Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky at a press conference.
At the same time, the war in Ukraine is said to have stalled, with little progress and reports of widespread war fatigue among Ukraine’s European allies.