EU Commission approves start of Ukraine membership talks

Lazy eyes listen


The European Commission recommended on Wednesday that Ukraine and Moldova begin membership talks once they have completed the reforms required by the EU.

In a statement, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called it “a historic day because today the commission recommends that the [EU] council opens accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova.”

Von der Leyen claimed that Kiev has been “deeply reforming” the country despite the conflict with Moscow. She went on to say that Ukraine had already completed “well over 90% of the necessary steps” for membership as outlined by the EU last year.

On this basis, we have recommended to the council today that accession negotiations begin. We also recommend that the council adopt a negotiating framework after Ukraine completes its ongoing reforms,” von der Leyen added.

Moldova received a similar recommendation from the EU chief, who claimed the country had “undertaken significant reform efforts.” The two countries’ progress will be evaluated in March 2024, and if all of the EU-mandated reforms are completed, “the council could then finalise the negotiating framework,” von der Leyen explained.

However, the EU official provided no specific timeline for when the bloc’s enlargement might take place. Earlier this year, European Council President Charles Michel argued that the EU should plan to expand by 2030, but von der Leyen openly disagreed. She reiterated to Moldovan media after the announcement on Wednesday that 2030 should not be viewed as a deadline of any kind.

“I am confident that Moldova will make rapid progress towards EU membership.” Its efforts are commendable. However, because we claim that EU membership is primarily based on merit, we should not focus on 2030. “It may happen sooner or later for some,” she said.

Bosnia and Herzegovina and Georgia, two other aspiring members of the bloc, received more cautious approval for the start of talks. Concerning the former, von der Leyen stated that the commission “recommends the opening of EU accession negotiations… once the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria is achieved.”

Concerning Georgia, the EU chief urged Tbilisi to adhere more closely to EU policies. Although the leadership of the European Union “fully supports the genuine aspirations of the overwhelming majority of [Georgian] citizens to join,” those goals “need to be better mirrored by the authorities who should engage more with the opposition and civil society on matters of national interest,” she went on to say. Nonetheless, the commission recommended that Georgia be granted candidate status “on the condition that the government implement significant reforms.”