Ukraine-EU summit to commend progress on reforms, but swift accession unlikely – media reports

31 January, 01:57 PM
Some countries are not ready to accept overly positive wording regarding Ukraine's membership in the EU (Photo:Dusan_Cvetanovic / pixabay)

Some countries are not ready to accept overly positive wording regarding Ukraine's membership in the EU (Photo:Dusan_Cvetanovic / pixabay)

The EU is expected to commend Ukraine on its progress on reforms needed from membership, and will send a strong message to Moscow, but member states remain divided over the speed of accession, the Euractiv television channel reported on Jan. 31.

Member states over the past weeks have been locked in a brawl regarding the positive wording of the text regarding Ukraine’s EU membership perspectives, four EU diplomats told Euractiv.

EU ambassadors are expected to agree on the final version of the summit communique on Jan. 31.

According to the draft communique, seen by Euractiv, EU and Ukrainian leaders are set to reiterate “the future of Ukraine and its citizens lies within the European Union” and “its commitment to support Ukraine’s further European integration.”

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“The EU acknowledged the considerable progress that Ukraine demonstrated in the recent months towards meeting the objectives underpinning its candidate status for EU membership, welcomed Ukraine’s reform efforts in such difficult times, and encouraged the country to continue on this path and to fulfil the conditions specified in the Commission’s opinion on its membership application to advance towards future EU membership,” the draft communique states in its current form.

The European Commission recommended EU candidate status for Ukraine in June 2022 on the understanding that Kyiv undertakes a series of legislative and policy steps, dubbed the seven recommendations.

These recommendations included enacting legislation on a selection process for the country’s Constitutional Court judges on a competitive basis, strengthening the fight against corruption, harmonising media regulation with EU standards, and protecting national minorities.

In turn, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, already reported on their implementation in December 2022.

“A large number of large member states will not accept too positive language – not in the least because the agreed language is hardly a month old, so no one’s ready to reopen a difficult discussion that we’ve only just concluded,” one EU diplomat told Euractiv.

Several EU diplomats said that the language in the draft declaration has become ‘too forward-leaning for some more sceptical member states, with pushback expected from France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, Denmark and Belgium.

At the same time, Poland, the three Baltic states, and Ukraine have been pushing for language that would indicate to Kyiv its membership application can be sped up.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Jan. 30 that Ukraine wants to join the European Union within the next two years.

In early February, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and her fellow European Commissioners plan to visit Kyiv for consultations with the Ukrainian government. According to U.S. political news outlet Politico, the delegation may include 10 to 15 EU commissioners.

The Ukraine-EU summit is scheduled for Feb. 3 in Kyiv. The integration of the Ukrainian economy’s sectors into the single European market is among the key issues that will be discussed at the summit.

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