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EU Commission prepares to open Ukraine membership talks – Bloomberg

The accession process is expected to be formally discussed by EU leaders in December

The European Union’s executive branch, the European Commission, is expected to shortly recommend that formal talks begin to start the process of Ukraine’s accession to membership of the bloc, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing anonymous sources with knowledge of the situation.

The commission could launch what would likely be a multi-year process next month, Bloomberg wrote, with European leaders expected to insist on progress being made in key areas, such as rooting out corruption, as initial steps in the process. The publication adds that the development will be viewed by Kiev as a boost and a counterbalance to reports of flagging enthusiasm for the continuance of Western support for its war effort.

Upon the formalization of the commission’s recommendation, EU lawmakers would have to greenlight the move – after which Ukraine would be required to adapt to European Union legislation on matters such as the rule of law and its economy. The state maintains it has overseen reforms in its judiciary and in the media sector.

The commission’s recommendation will be formally discussed in December, Bloomberg said, though the unknown stances of some member states, including that of Hungary, could pose a problem.

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European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell (R) meets Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (L) in Brussels, Belgium, May 2, 2023
EU candidate questions bloc’s pro-Ukraine favoritism

At a summit in Spain next month various EU leaders will discuss enlargement of the bloc, including how to adapt to prospective new members like Western Balkan countries and Moldova, as well as Ukraine.

As part of her 2023 State of the Union speech earlier this month, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that new EU members would “give us the geopolitical weight and capacity to act.” She said that the bloc, which currently has 27 members, could soon have more than 30 – and that the “next enlargement must also be a catalyst for progress.”

Von der Leyen added: “We have seen the great strides Ukraine has already made since we granted them candidate status” in July 2022.

Bloomberg also reported, however, that its sources warned that a failure to commence Ukraine’s EU integration talks would be politically inconvenient for the commission and might be viewed as the bloc not backing Kiev’s labored counteroffensive efforts.

Another factor Bloomberg cited, according to an anonymous EU diplomat, will be the need to balance Ukraine’s desire to join the EU with Western Balkan countries who wish to do the same, and to display that favoritism isn’t being shown to Kiev during the process.

September 22, 2023 at 11:54PM

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