The EU plans to start accession talks with Ukraine before July 1

The European Union plans to start negotiations on Ukraine’s membership in the bloc before Hungary takes over the EU Council presidency on July 1. Kyiv has fulfilled most of the conditions for accession. Politico reported this citing its sources.

According to the media outlet, representatives of the governments of 27 EU countries will discuss the draft framework for the Commission’s negotiations on Ukraine and Moldova’s accession to the EU on May 29.

One European official told reporters that Belgium, which currently holds the EU presidency, wants the talks to begin on June 25 at the Common Affairs Council, a meeting of EU ministers.

“While the Commission’s latest report on Ukraine highlights some reforms that Kyiv still needed to make before talks could begin, officials say Ukraine has done most of its homework. This includes reforms to protect ethnic and linguistic minorities, as recommended by the Venice Commission,” Politico wrote.

According to the sources, few want to wait for another report to confirm Ukraine’s progress in writing, as the European Commissioner for Enlargement, Hungarian Olivér Várhelyi, may delay the process.

Given the number of complex technical issues to resolve, diplomats do not expect to conclude a deal immediately. The idea, they said, is to start discussing sensitive issues, including minority rights, which are key for Hungary to reach an agreement in the coming weeks.

German government: Ukraine has fulfilled the requirements for reforms

The German government has stated that Ukraine has fulfilled the requirements for reforms necessary to start negotiations on joining the European Union. Anna Lührmann, the German government’s Minister for Europe, made this statement in an interview with the DPA news agency.

She called on all EU member states to agree on a draft negotiation framework as soon as possible.

“In the opinion of the German government, Ukraine has fulfilled all the requirements to be able to start negotiations on joining the EU in June,” she said.

The day before, it was reported that Hungary had blocked the approval of the draft negotiation framework on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union at a meeting of EU ambassadors over the issue of minority rights (referring to the Hungarian minority in a small district in the Transcarpatia region of Ukraine).

The EU wants to officially start accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova by the end of June, but this requires the unanimity of all EU states, including Hungary’s consent. 

June is a key month, as Hungary’s six-month presidency of the EU Council begins in July, and it could potentially use its presidency to slow down decisions on Ukraine.

Ukraine’s EU accession: key facts

  • On February 28, 2022, Ukraine applied to the EU for immediate accession under the special procedure.
  • Ukraine received candidate status for EU membership on June 23, 2022.
  • On November 8, 2023, the European Commission recommended starting the process of negotiating Ukraine’s accession to the EU.
  • On February 21, 2024, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the negotiation framework for Ukraine’s accession to the EU would be ready in the early summer, after the European elections.
  • On February 22, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukraine’s goal is to start negotiations on EU accession by June.
  • On March 12, European Commissioner Varhelyi proposed to recognize only two of the four steps necessary for Ukraine’s accession to the EU as completed.
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