European Council has given green light to Ukraine’s EU accession talks

At a summit in Brussels, EU leaders approved the European Commission’s recommendation to open accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova.

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, announced this. “The European Council has decided to open accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova,” Michel wrote on X.

The European Council confirmed in its decision on Ukraine’s accession negotiations that it will approve the legal and technical aspects of this process, known as the negotiation framework, only after fully implementing all the recommendations of the European Commission.

The European Council invites the Council (of the EU, Ed.) to approve the negotiation framework after taking the relevant steps outlined in the Commission recommendations of November 8, 2023.

This means that before the negotiations can begin, Ukraine must implement all the recommendations of the European Commission, including those in the November report on enlargement.

Ukraine formally implemented almost all of these recommendations, including improving the law on national minorities and strengthening the institutional capacity of anti-corruption bodies; President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed the relevant laws last week.

However, one more recommendation remained unimplemented: to regulate lobbying activities. The Ukrainian Parliament has just registered the relevant government draft law.

The European Commission is expected to assess the implementation of the recommendations positively and may make additional adjustments during this assessment.

EU leaders could approve the “negotiation framework” for Ukraine in the spring of 2024 after confirming that Kyiv has met all the EC’s criteria.

The opening of negotiations requires the consent of all EU leaders, including Hungary, which has been opposing such a decision until recently.

On Thursday morning, key leaders tried to convince Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban of the need to support Ukraine. Afterward, the Hungarian leader said that he was not against Ukraine’s accession to the EU but “sees no reason” to negotiate.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that he agreed to give up his veto on the start of negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU only because he would have many more opportunities to block the process. He said this to Kossuth Rádió, Politico reports.

The decision of the EU leaders means that the European Commission begins preparing the technical aspects of the membership negotiations with Ukraine (the so-called negotiation framework) without further delay.

The European Commission will approve the framework at the next EU summit in the spring of 2024 if Ukraine fulfills all the previous criteria.

Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, called the EU’s decision to open accession talks with Ukraine a victory for the whole of Europe.

“A victory for Ukraine. A victory for the whole of Europe. A victory that motivates, inspires, and strengthens,” Zelensky wrote, commenting on the announcement by European Council President Charles Michel that negotiations had been opened.

The decision of the EU leaders means that the European Commission begins preparing the technical aspects of the membership negotiations with Ukraine (the so-called negotiation framework) without further delay. The European Commission will approve the framework at the next EU summit in the spring of 2024 if Ukraine fulfills all the preliminary criteria.

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