The European Commission is set to recommend the start of membership negotiations with Ukraine, according to an unnamed senior Ukrainian government official. The official stated that Ukraine expects a positive appraisal of its membership bid from the commission. The final decision will be made at an EU summit in December, where the bloc’s executive body will present a report on Ukraine’s progress in seven reform areas. This report will also assess the progress made by Moldova and Georgia.
A senior French diplomat has confirmed that there is a clear consensus in support of Ukraine’s membership bid, with support for Kiev remaining very solid. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Ukraine and stated that the country has already met over 90% of the requirements to start formal membership negotiations. However, she highlighted that corruption and the rights of ethnic minorities are areas that still require work.
Von der Leyen reiterated that the accession process is strictly merit-based and that Ukraine should not expect any shortcuts on its path to full membership. Former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte have expressed reservations about Ukraine joining the EU due to concerns about corruption and the timing of EU expansion.
The decision to launch accession talks with Ukraine will require unanimous consent from all 27 member states. However, Hungary has expressed misgivings regarding Ukraine’s potential membership. Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has stated that Budapest will block EU accession talks for Ukraine as long as discrimination against the Hungarian ethnic minority continues in western Ukraine.
It remains to be seen whether Ukraine will be able to address these concerns and gain the unanimous support necessary for membership negotiations to begin. The European Commission’s report in December will play a crucial role in determining Ukraine’s progress towards EU membership.