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European Commission recommends opening accession talks with Ukraine, Moldova

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. (The Presidential Office of Ukraine)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, recommended opening accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova, saying they are sufficiently prepared for the formal opening of the process, which would eventually lead to their becoming members of the European Union.

The commission told EU ambassadors that both Kyiv and Chisinau have fully fulfilled the outstanding reform steps needed to start official talks.

“We consider that all the steps have been met by the two countries,” a commission spokeswoman told reporters on June 7.

“Now the decision is in the hands of the member states.”

In Ukraine’s case, the reform steps included the fight against corruption, de-oligarchization, and the protection of national minorities, officials told RFE/RL.

Moldova meanwhile has fulfilled criteria on judicial reform, de-oligarchization, and the fight against corruption, the officials added.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal hailed the commission’s move.

“Thank you for the positive assessment of our European integration progress. The announced conclusion of the EC states that Ukraine continues systematic efforts to join the EU and has completed all additional reform steps,” Shmyhal said.

He added that Kyiv is now waiting for the next step from its European partners — the actual start of membership negotiations this month.

“The Ukrainian people are choosing every day the right to be part of the European family in the war against the Russian aggressor,” he added.

Brussels appears to be encouraging the two countries to continue on their path to Europe ahead of a transition period in the bloc, which will acquire a new European Parliament in voting this weekend.

The 27-nation bloc will also have a new commission, and will be led from next month for the rest of 2024 by Hungary, whose Prime Minister Viktor Orban is on friendly terms with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has systematically opposed or undermined the EU’s moves to sanction Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine and Moldova submitted their candidacies shortly after the start of the invasion and obtained candidate status in June 2022, gaining the conditional green-light for the start of negotiations in December.