Five reasons to open EU accession negotiations with energy and environment chapters

Tuesday, 30 January 2024

Ukraine needs swift and deep reforms on the path to EU membership despite the ongoing war.

Ukraine has been working on aligning its legislation with the EU under the Association Agreement since 2014, and in December 2022, the European Commission made a historic decision to open accession negotiations with Ukraine.

Read more in a column by Suzanna Nis and Olha Bondarenko, representatives of Green Deal Ukraine, and Maciej Zanewicz, the head of the international cooperation programme Forum Energii – Why EU accession negotiation should start with energy and environment chapters.

The authors remind us that the decision to open official EU accession negotiations must be based on the so-called negotiating frameworks developed by the European Commission, leading to the first intergovernmental conference between Ukraine and the EU to initiate negotiations.

EU legislation is divided into six thematic blocks covering 35 negotiating chapters, such as agriculture and rural development or environment and climate change.

"Our roadmap on energy and climate Green Deal Ukraїna: Ukraine towards the EU, published in December 2023, explains the steps and the process in detail," write Nis, Bondarenko, and Zaniewicz.

According to the authors, the roadmap strongly recommend starting official negotiations with the block of Green Agenda, specifically with the chapters on Energy and Environment.

"There are five obvious reasons for this," the experts add.

Firstly, the EU's green agenda and energy are cross-cutting issues in various sectors such as industry, agriculture, transportation, and more. The Green Agenda 2019 sets the tone for a climate-neutral Europe, and any new member or close EU partner is expected to comply with it.

Secondly, Ukraine has already made significant progress in the energy sector: the European Commission's report on Ukraine within the EU enlargement package (November 2023) confirms that Ukraine has a "good level" of preparation in the energy sector.

Thirdly, successfully negotiated Chapters 15 (Energy) and 27 (Environment and Climate Change) will greatly contribute to the creation of transparent and reliable rules. This, in turn, will facilitate attracting private investments in energy and infrastructure for green, low-carbon reconstruction.

Fourthly, prioritising energy and climate acts as a bridge between urgent short-term needs (energy security, recovery, and reconstruction) and the inevitability of EU accession negotiations.

Further progress in a well-worked area also opens up opportunities for closer alignment with the EU on energy matters.

Finally, fifth, closer integration in the field of energy and climate is mutually beneficial. It will facilitate energy trade, leading to a reduction in its cost.

"Challenges such as emissions trading system, a functioning electricity market, inefficient state-owned companies, achieving goals for the share of renewable energy, and energy efficiency should not be forgotten. They exist, and projects like Green Deal Ukraїna are precisely aimed at helping find solutions to them," note the authors.

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