Ukraine meets 2 of 7 conditions for starting EU membership talks – sources

  • Ukraine fulfills the requirements related to the Law on Media and the Judiciary
  • An EU executive highlights Ukraine’s progress
  • The road to joining the European Union seems to take years, and peace is required

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – An EU report will indicate this week that Ukraine has met two out of seven conditions for starting membership negotiations, two EU sources said, while the bloc’s executive body is set to highlight progress despite the war sparked by Russia. Invade.

In a highly symbolic move, the EU granted Ukraine official membership candidate status a year ago β€” four months after Russia, the Soviet-era overlord of Kiev, attacked the country amid its efforts to further integrate with the West.

But the EU has set seven conditions – including judicial reform and curbing endemic corruption – for starting accession negotiations. Ukraine has called for the talks to start this year.

The European Commission’s executive report is a milestone in that process, which backers of Ukraine’s quest for quick accession to the European Union hope will culminate in a decision by the bloc’s 27 member states in December to begin talks with Kiev.

Two senior EU officials briefed on the report, which has not been made public, said Ukraine had met two criteria so far. One of the officials said that this relates to judicial reform and the media law, and added that the focus of the report was on the positives.

“There is progress. The report will be moderately positive,” said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity. β€œIt is not about embellishing reality but acknowledging progress, there have been high-profile anti-corruption cases to mention, for example.”

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Ukraine has passed in recent months after several high-profile corruption cases, including the arrest of the chief justice of the Supreme Court on suspicion of paying a $2.7 million bribe.

Besides strong anti-graft efforts, other benchmarks include Ukraine’s Constitutional Court and law enforcement reforms, anti-money laundering measures, as well as laws to rein in oligarchy and protect the rights of national minorities.

Half full of the cup

A third source, also an EU official familiar with the bloc’s recommendations for Ukraine on the rule of law, added:

“In terms of reforms, the glass will be half full, and we would never adopt a negative tone towards Ukraine right now. Judicial reforms have seen some progress, although there are still major reforms to be implemented. Not everything is satisfactory.”

The official noted that Ukraine has appointed new heads of the specialized anti-corruption prosecutor’s office and the National Anti-Corruption Office, as required, although the 2022 anti-oligarchy law was deemed insufficient, among other things.

The report – described as an interim update ahead of a more formal assessment in October – will go to the EU’s 27 national envoys in Brussels, the center of the bloc, on Wednesday, and then a meeting of European affairs ministers in Stockholm on Thursday.

The 27 member states have the final say on whether and when to open membership talks with Kiev.

To qualify, Ukraine has to align its laws with several sweeping EU standards ranging from climate to labour. Practically speaking, Ukraine’s path to membership is bound to take years, and few believed the country could ever join in a war with Russia.

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Ukraine’s neighbors on the EU’s eastern edge, Poland and the Baltic states, generally support Kiev’s fast track, while older western members including France, Germany and the Netherlands are cooler on the idea.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska); Editing by Mark Heinrich

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