Ukraine to Launch EU Membership Talks Amid War with Russia

Ukraine to Launch EU Membership Talks Amid War with Russia

Ukraine is set to begin official EU membership talks, marking a significant step toward integration with the European Union, despite ongoing conflict with Russia.

Luxembourg, Bollywood Fever: Ukraine is set to officially commence membership talks with the European Union on Tuesday, a milestone President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has hailed as a “dream come true” for Ukrainians more than two years into a war with Russia.

Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Olga Stefanishyna, will lead Ukraine’s delegation at an intergovernmental conference in Luxembourg. This event marks the official start of discussions to align Ukraine’s laws and standards with those of the 27-nation bloc.

Ukraine to Launch EU Membership Talks Amid War with Russia
AP Photo

A few hours later, Moldova, which applied to join the EU following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and was granted candidate status four months later, will participate in a separate intergovernmental conference to officially launch its own accession process.

Ukraine, too, sought candidate status in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion. By June 2022, EU leaders had granted Ukraine official candidate status. However, the journey toward full membership has progressed slowly, and the process might take years to complete.

The prolonged accession talks for Turkey, which have lasted nearly two decades without resolution, serve as a cautionary tale. Despite the potentially lengthy process, the initiation of talks sends a robust signal of solidarity with Ukraine, beyond the substantial financial support the EU has already provided. It also demonstrates support for Moldova, which faces its own challenges with Russia.

“Generations of our people are realizing their European dream. Ukraine is returning to Europe,” Zelenskyy stated in an online post following the EU member states’ agreement on Friday to open the talks.

Tuesday’s intergovernmental conference marks the formal launch of talks, but the actual negotiations are expected to begin in a few months. Candidate countries must align their laws and standards with those of the EU in 35 policy areas, known as chapters. These range from the free movement of goods to fisheries, taxation, energy, the environment, judicial rights, and security.

All 27 EU member countries must unanimously agree to open or close each chapter, providing ample opportunities for nations to demand more progress or delay proceedings.

Ukraine, which borders EU members Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania, would become the bloc’s largest member, surpassing France, if it joins. This would shift the EU’s center of gravity further eastward. As a leading grain producer, Ukraine’s entry would significantly impact EU agricultural policy.

Alongside Moldova, Ukraine joins a queue of EU hopefuls, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Turkey. These countries have had longstanding membership aspirations and have observed Kyiv’s rapid progress with keen interest.

Ukraine aims to join the EU by 2030 but must undertake numerous institutional and legal reforms first. This daunting list is led by steps to combat corruption and includes broad reforms to public administration and the judiciary.

Starting these membership talks signifies a significant step for Ukraine and Moldova towards European integration, underscoring their commitment to aligning with European standards and values despite the ongoing challenges posed by their geopolitical situation.

Source: APNews

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Nicholas Edwards

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