Ukraine May Enjoy Some Benefits of Membership before It Becomes Member – European Parliament President

Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, suggests that the EU could propose some of the benefits of EU membership to Ukraine even before it formally takes place.

Metsola noted in an interview with The Guardian that she does not consider it necessary to wait for Ukraine's official accession to the EU in order to provide it and other candidate countries with some of the benefits enjoyed by full members of the union.

"If we are going to extend roaming to those countries, let’s do that. The network operators are ready to do that," she pointed out.

This may also involve the removal of trade barriers. Roberta Metsola believes that it might also include agriculture.

"Pre-accession also means access to funds, access to universities, access for students, the possibility to tap into the internal market…We said for years Ukraine could not be connected to the European electricity grid. It took us days to do that once the war started. At the end of the day it was always about political will," the European Parliament president stressed.

Metsola voiced hope that negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the EU could begin before Christmas, in December. She had also expressed such expectations earlier.

"I expect a concrete outcome because the worst signal could be that we have given these people targets and deadlines which we can’t meet ourselves," the official said.

She shares the view of those European officials who believe that the EU should not postpone the admission of Ukraine and the Western Balkans, which are even longer on this path.

"'Pushing the can down the road' on enlargement will only fuel nationalism and the far-right. It increases the extremes on the political spectrum, the Euroscepticism. Campaigns in accession countries are fought, and lost or won, on the basis of the dream and hope of the EU," Metsola pointed out.

Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, believes that a political decision to start EU accession negotiations will be made by the end of 2023 but does not rule out that the talks will technically begin later.

She said the start of negotiations will depend primarily on the political steps taken by the member states.

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