Ukraine aims to start EU accession talks by June's end — Ambassador Mathernová

Katarina Maternova
Katarina Maternova

Ukraine is prepared to initiate negotiations for EU accession, anticipating their commencement by the end of June, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the European Union, Katarína Mathernová said in an interview with Ukrainian Radio on April 26.

"I am optimistic that negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova will get underway by the end of June," she said, reflecting on the groundwork laid as early as December last year.

"Ukraine is on the right track, ready for negotiations."

This does not imply a completion of all necessary reforms; rather the ongoing need for them, Mathernová said.

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"While it's clear they are necessary, they can be pursued alongside accession negotiations," she said.

"Therefore, I cannot guarantee, but I can say that I very much hope that negotiations will start in June."

The main factor influencing the accession process is the need for unanimity among member states, Mathernová said. Hungary, which is to assume the presidency from July 1 to the end of 2024, is unlikely to hinder Ukraine's plans, as the presiding country should "play the role of an impartial mediator," she said.

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"This is not the case where you promote your government or national priorities," Mathernová said.

"You must chair meetings but facilitate consensus among others. I do not expect any deviations from the norm; the system is designed to prevent significant divergences on this issue. The country must serve as an impartial mediator; otherwise, it will face challenges in effectively chairing the meetings."

Ukraine’s accession to the European Union

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed hope to start negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU in the first half of this year on March 13.

The European Commission officially presented the negotiation framework for Ukraine’s and Moldova’s accession to the EU on March 12. It sets out the guidelines and framework for accession negotiations with each candidate country.

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Now, the EU Council must start an internal discussion of drafts and approve them. After that, the state holding the Council presidency will present the agreed common EU position at the first intergovernmental conference with each country, marking the formal start of accession negotiations.

The European Commission recommended starting negotiations on Ukraine and Moldova’s accession to the EU on Nov. 8.

The European Council supported the start of negotiations on Ukraine’s membership in the EU by 26 votes on Dec. 14. During the voting process, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban walked out of the room.

Zelenskyy has repeatedly stated that fulfilling the EU’s conditions for starting negotiations is Ukraine’s priority.

At the same time, European Council President Charles Michel said that Ukraine could join the European Union in 2030.

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