The leaders of the European Union have decided to initiate negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union, announced the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. Identical decisions were also made for Moldova.
“EUCO granted candidate status to Georgia. And the EU will open negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina once the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria is reached and has invited the commission to report by March with a view to taking such a decision,” Michel wrote.
The President of the European Council called the decision a “clear signal of hope” for the citizens of these countries, as well as for the entire continent. At the same time, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, considers it a “victory for the whole of Europe”.
“Victory of Ukraine. The victory of the whole of Europe. A victory that motivates, inspires and strengthens,” Zelenskyy wrote.
The Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, had been blocking the decision until the last minute. The politician, in particular, refused direct negotiations with Kyiv and speculated on Hungarians in Ukrainian Zakarpattia.
After all, during the vote in Brussels on the start of negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova, Orbán did not block the decision. Instead, the Hungarian prime minister left the hall, allowing other EU leaders to vote unanimously.
“Hungary does not want to share in this bad decision, and for this reason, Hungary did not participate in the decision today,” said Orbán.
The influential publication Politico reports that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz suggested Viktor Orbán leave the room.
The European Council granted Ukraine candidate status for EU membership at the summit in Brussels on June 23. Now, Ukraine is expected to continue implementing reforms, particularly those related to the rule of law, oligarchs, and corruption. The next step involves the “negotiation framework” from the EU, which serves as the “homework” that needs to be completed for accession, outlining the order of negotiations between the parties. The necessary criteria may be adopted as early as next spring.
The accession negotiation process can take several years. For instance, North Macedonia became a candidate for accession in 2005, and the EU last expanded in 2013 with the accession of Croatia.
Cover: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters