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EU cannot give Ukraine date for accession talks – spokesman

Outlining the framework for the move and passing the legislation are two different things, according to Eric Mamer

The European Commission does not yet have a clear timeframe for talks on Ukraine’s EU membership bid, spokesman Eric Mamer said at a press briefing on Monday.  

Brussels granted Ukraine EU-candidate status in June 2022, and in December last year, EU leaders agreed to open accession talks. The next step requires EU officials to draft a negotiation framework, which would include guidelines and basic principles for the accession talks.

According to Mamer, while the commission intends to propose the framework in the coming weeks, it is unclear how long it will take to be approved.

“It is necessary to distinguish between the Commission’s presentation of the negotiation framework to the Council… and its adoption by the Council. And this is a question to which we, the European Commission, of course, cannot answer. However, we are working to make this happen quickly,” Mamer said, as cited by RIA Novosti. 

Last month, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU is unlikely to draft a negotiation framework for Kiev until after EU parliamentary elections in June this year. Speaking at a press briefing on February 22, von der Leyen said her agency was still working on the document, noting that “different negotiating positions” would take time to review. However, during a trip to Kiev three days later, she said the commission would submit the paper in mid-March. 

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FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron meets Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in Paris, France, on February 16, 2024.
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Ukraine’s actual accession to the bloc may still be far away, however, as once the paper is adopted by the EU Council, it will then have to be reviewed by all 27 member states, which will have the final say in beginning the formal negotiating process.

Kiev has been urging Brussels to speed up the accession process. According to the country’s deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Olga Stefanishina, Ukraine expects the negotiation framework to be ready by mid-March.

“No later than March 12, we expect the European Commission to present a negotiation framework and assess the progress of reforms so that EU countries can make a decision on March 19. We hope that there will be no delays,” Stefanishina told journalists on Monday, as cited by news outlet Ukrinform.

Some EU member states are skeptical about Ukraine’s EU bid. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been a vocal critic of the move from the start, warning that it would be disastrous for the EU’s agricultural sector. French President Emmanuel Macron said in December that the EU was “very far” from allowing Ukraine into the bloc.


March 04, 2024 at 11:30PM

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