Ukraine and Moldova Edge Closer to EU Membership Talks

Ukraine and Moldova have fulfilled the necessary criteria to begin negotiations for EU membership, the European Commission announced. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal is hopeful that talks will start soon, although unanimous support from all 27 EU member states is crucial. Concerns from Hungary may pose a challenge.

Reuters | Updated: 07-06-2024 18:57 IST | Created: 07-06-2024 18:57 IST
Ukraine and Moldova Edge Closer to EU Membership Talks

(Recasts with EU Commission, Belgian presidency, adds more quotes, background) BRUSSELS/KYIV, June 7 (Reuters) -

Ukraine and Moldova meet all the criteria needed to formally start negotiations on EU membership, the European Commission said on Friday, as Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal expressed hope that the talks could start later this month. "We confirm that on the Commission side we consider that all the steps have been met by the two countries," Commission spokeswoman on enlargement Ana Pisonero said.

"The decision is now in the hands of the member states -- it is for them to adopt the negotiating framework," she said. "Once this step is done it is the prerogative of the EU Presidency to convene an intergovernmental conference to formally mark the start of the negotiations," she added. Opening talks with the European Union would be a morale boost for Ukraine as the war with Russia enters its third year and Moscow's forces are advancing in the eastern Donetsk region and opening a new front in the northeastern Kharkiv region.

"Now we expect our European partners to take the next step — to start negotiations on European Union membership already this month," Shmyhal said on the Telegram messaging app. "Every day, the Ukrainian people fight for the right to be part of the European family in the war against the Russian aggressor."

The Commission assessment will now be discussed by experts in working groups and then by ambassadors of EU governments next week. The 27 EU member states have to unanimously agree to start the negotiations, which take years to conclude, by adopting the so-called negotiating framework. HUNGARY SCEPTICAL

Belgium, which holds the rotating EU presidency until the end of June, is making arrangements for intergovernmental conferences with Ukraine and Moldova to be held on June 25 in Luxembourg if there is unanimous backing. But such backing is not guaranteed because Hungary, which maintains warm ties with Russia and has criticised Ukraine's membership bid, has doubts about the Commission's assessment that Ukraine is ready and wants to see some more items added to the negotiating frameworks, diplomats said.

Belgium and the Commission are keen to get agreement in June, before Hungary takes over the rotating presidency from July 1 for six months, because EU diplomats expect Budapest will put the whole process on ice until 2025. Kyiv applied for EU membership in the weeks after Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022 and it was granted candidate status four months later.

Despite the impact of the war, which has devastated the economy and forced millions to abandon their homes in frontline cities, towns and villages, the Ukrainian government has been implementing sweeping reforms recommended by the EU. The changes have ranged from anti-corruption measures to regulations for public administration and food safety.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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