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Today, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine officially begin negotiations to join the European Union

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Today, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine officially begin negotiations to join the European Union

Forumul Economic Regional Moldova 2024 – Vatra Dornei, 4–6 iulie

Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova officially launch negotiations with the European Union on Tuesday in Luxembourg aimed at securing full EU membership for both countries.

The accession negotiations between the EU and a third country take place within an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC).

According to a diplomatic source, the EU-27 will formally commence talks with Ukraine on Tuesday afternoon around 15:30 (13:30 GMT), followed by Moldova, as reported by AFP via Agerpres.

The opening of these discussions follows a hard-won agreement among the 26 EU countries, who had to use their ingenuity to persuade the 27th, Hungary under Viktor Orban, not to block the process.

The Hungarian Prime Minister strongly opposed any accession talks with Ukraine, arguing that the country was not ready. As the EU’s closest member state to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Hungary also blocks any European military aid to Kiev.

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Orban eventually agreed to leave the negotiating table at the EU-27 leaders’ summit in December, and his 26 counterparts decided to initiate accession negotiations with Kiev and Chisinau.

After the official opening of the Intergovernmental Conference, negotiators will first scrutinize the legislation of both countries to ensure compatibility with EU standards.

This initial phase, known as “screening” in Brussels jargon, typically lasts between one to two years, according to diplomatic sources.

However, in the cases of Ukraine and Moldova, things are expected to move faster because “we already have a fairly clear idea” of the situation, emphasized a European diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity.

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Nevertheless, it will likely be several weeks, if not months, before various negotiation chapters are formally opened.

It is also unlikely that these chapters will be opened before the end of this year: on July 1, Hungary, which is not enthusiastic about Ukraine’s accession, assumes the rotating presidency of the EU Council, which brings together the ministers of all 27 member states.

The heads of state and government of the European Union paved the way for such accession negotiations in mid-December 2023. However, Hungary has so far delayed the official start of negotiations with Kiev, citing unmet conditions.

On June 7, the European Commission declared that Ukraine and Moldova have now fulfilled all the prerequisites for accession.

The Commission urged Ukraine to take steps to combat corruption and oligarchic influence, and also emphasized the need for greater attention to minorities, a measure strongly advocated by Budapest due to the Hungarian minority in Ukraine.

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The EU granted Ukraine candidate country status in June 2022, a highly symbolic gesture, just months after the war initiated by Moscow, as well as to neighboring Moldova.

The opening of negotiations is just one step in a long and challenging accession process. Ukraine, a country with over 40 million inhabitants and a significant agricultural power, faces a range of challenges in joining the EU, starting with financial assistance.

Meanwhile, the EU intends to reform itself to accommodate this enlargement and improve its governance and decision-making processes, which are already complex with 27 member states.

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