The European Union will positively assess the changes in the country, but will not decide on an accelerated grant of membership, Euractiv believes.
The European Union at the summit will praise Ukraine for its progress in reforms related to membership. However, Member States continue to disagree on the speed of entry. On Monday, January 31, Euractiv reports with reference to the draft communiqué of the Ukraine-EU summit.
The media notes that the President of the European Council Charles Michel, the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell are due to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday, February 3.
On Thursday, February 2, consultations will be held between the European Commission and the government of Ukraine.
According to the draft communique, the leaders of the EU and Ukraine intend to reaffirm that “the future of Ukraine and its citizens lies in the European Union” and “their commitment to support Ukraine’s further European integration.”
“The EU acknowledges the significant progress that Ukraine has shown in recent months towards achieving the goals that underlie its status as an EU candidate, welcomes Ukraine’s efforts to reform during such difficult times, and encourages the country to continue on this path and fulfill the conditions specified in the opinion of the European Commission on its application for membership to move towards future EU membership,” the draft communiqué reads in its current form.
In addition to the expected language on EU accession, progress is expected in areas such as duty-free access for Ukrainian exports, access to a roaming-free zone, and inclusion in the single euro payments area.
EU member states have been involved in a dispute in recent weeks due to the positive wording of the text regarding the prospect of Ukraine’s membership in the EU, Euractiv reports citing four EU diplomats.
Poland, the three Baltic states and Ukraine are pushing for language that would indicate to Kyiv that its membership bid could be accelerated.
In June, the European Commission recommended Ukraine candidate status for EU membership, on the understanding that Kyiv would take a series of legislative and policy steps, referred to as the Seven Recommendations.
As Kyiv pushed ahead with reforms in recent months, Ukrainian leaders have expressed hope that their country could join the bloc in the near future, perhaps even within the next two years. However, despite the decision to grant candidate status to Kyiv last June, the prospect of Ukraine’s entry in the near future remains unlikely.
Several EU diplomats said the language in the draft declaration had become “too progressive for some of the more skeptical member states, and resistance is expected from France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Denmark and Belgium.”
French President Emmanuel Macron said last year that it could be “decades” before Ukraine can join the bloc, while even the most supportive EU leaders acknowledge that Kyiv may still have a long way to go.
More skeptical Member States consider the reference to “significant progress” too premature and “anticipating normal steps in the accession process”, as no official assessment of Ukraine’s progress has yet been provided.
They would prefer to follow the language used at the June European Council and the agreed process, in which the European Commission is expected to provide an interim update on Ukraine’s progress in meeting the seven requirements set by the EU to start accession negotiations.
This update will come in addition to the regular evaluation carried out as part of the EC’s annual package, which is published regularly in October, where additional recommendations are likely to be added.
In private conversations, EU officials working on this case noted that Ukraine has made significant progress in passing a new media law and promoting key candidates for the country’s Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office.
While Ukraine has announced the reform of the Constitutional Court and the procedure for appointing judges, the Venice Commission remains concerned about the powers and composition of the advisory group of experts, the body that selects candidates for the court.
The EU Ambassador voiced the topics of the EU-Ukraine summit
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