Thursday, July 25, 2024

‘Historic Moment’: Ukraine And European Union Begin Membership Talks

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Topline

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed Ukraine began membership talks with the European Union on Tuesday—marking a major milestone for Ukraine in its process to join the union amid its ongoing war with Russia.

Key Facts

Zelenskyy confirmed the country began accession negotiations to become a member of the European Union in a statement posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday, saying this was a “historic moment” and Ukraine is “committed to fulfilling every requirement” to become a member.

At the first intergovernmental conference held Tuesday, the EU “reiterated its resolute condemnation of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine” and said it will continue to support Ukraine—which officials pointed out is already a close partner of the Union—“for as long as it takes and as intensely as needed.”

Ukraine applied to be an EU member in February 2022—just days after Russia invaded it—and has had candidate status, which is a first step toward membership but does not guarantee entrance, since June 2022.

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What Are Ukraine’s Next Steps?

The intergovernmental conference that began Tuesday was just the start of a long negotiation process—that the Associated Press reported likely won’t really begin for months—during which Ukraine will align its laws and standards with the EU’s requirements. Candidates have to make sure all their laws comply with the EU requirements in 35 different policy areas ranging from the environment to education and culture to food safety. A country can only get its treaty to join once all 35 policy areas are aligned with EU requirements and “every EU government is satisfied with the candidate’s progress in that policy field,” meaning individual countries could request more changes and prolong the process.

Crucial Quote

“The road to reach this point has been challenging and Ukraine’s determination to undertake the necessary reforms has been truly impressive,” Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Belgium—which currently has the EU’s rotating presidency—Hadja Lahbib said in a statement. “The future of Ukraine and its citizens lies within the European Union.”

Key Background

The EU agreed to open membership talks with Ukraine and neighboring Moldova—which also began membership talks Tuesday—in a December vote. Analysts have said in the past that Ukraine being admitted as a member state would hurt Russia and provide a “moral boost” to Ukraine as the two are in the third year of war. If accepted into the Union, Ukraine would be able to get EU grants and funding from the common budget, which would likely help in its war against Russia, and it could change its currency from the hryvnia to the Euro.

Tangent

Ukraine’s first conference came one day after the EU passed its 14th package of sanctions against Russia. Like the sanctions passed before this one, it seeks to “continue limiting Russian revenues, and to reinforce export restrictions on industrial goods and advanced technology.” The sanctions were also meant to “send a clear and strong signal of EU unity and of our support to Ukraine and its people,” according to a release from the Union.

Further Reading

AP NewsUkraine and Moldova set to launch EU membership talks. It’s a dream come true for Ukraine’s leader

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