EU wants to start accession talks with Ukraine in June, Politico reports

Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Brussels officials insist on starting official negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the European Union as early as June.

Politico spoke with five diplomats on the condition of anonymity. 

They reported that intensive work is currently underway to persuade the Hungarian government to agree to start negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the EU. 

It is proposed to start official negotiations on Ukraine's accession on 25 June.


Politico’s sources believe that this will bring moral uplift to Ukraine, which is resisting Russian aggression.

Reportedly, Ukraine and the EU are negotiating with Budapest to resolve the issues of Hungarian minorities in Ukraine.

After the April talks between Andrii Yermak, Head of the President’s Office, and Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, "the parties noted the positive dynamic of the dialogue." According to one of the diplomats, Kyiv has responded to the 11-point list outlined by Budapest and is awaiting Hungary's response.

One EU diplomat suggested that Hungary might want to conclude the negotiations on Ukraine's EU accession before it takes over the rotating presidency of the EU Council in July. 

"There was a sense of not doing this before the [9 June European Parliament] election because it could become an election issue," said the EU diplomat, capturing the mood felt among many officials in Brussels. "Now we’re looking for this slot in June. If you’re the Hungarians, you would rather have it [discussions around Ukraine’s membership] out of the way before the presidency."

After EU leaders provided political support to Kyiv, the next step in the accession process is the start of official negotiations through an intergovernmental conference with Ukraine. This would mean the opening of membership negotiations. 

For this to happen, EU countries must agree on a so-called negotiation framework. The 27 capitals have been bargaining over this document since the European Commission sent it in March. So far, the technical-level negotiations are going well, according to two diplomats, and they expect a new draft to be sent to EU ambassadors in the coming weeks to resolve the most pressing issues.

Ukraine and its supporters in the EU are calling for an intergovernmental conference between Brussels and Kyiv to be held before Hungary takes over the rotating presidency of the EU Council on 1 July. 

At the same time, Hungary is interested in a successful presidency of the EU Council, the diplomats say. The Belgians, who currently hold the presidency, are also trying to persuade Hungary that this is in their political interest, especially considering that Hungary could use one of several methods to block Ukraine's EU accession if it so wishes.

Belgian officials have already scheduled an intergovernmental conference for 25 June, a few days before Budapest takes over the presidency of the EU on 1 July. But "as always, it is impossible to predict what Hungary will do until we hear from Orbán himself," said one of the diplomats.

Katarina Mathernova, the EU Ambassador to Ukraine, believes that Ukraine is ready to start negotiations on joining the European Union and hopes these will begin by the end of June.

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, during her last visit to Kyiv, also said that she expects the negotiations to begin by the end of the first half of 2024.

Read more: Kyiv will take the Albanian path to EU membership: details of Ukraine's negotiating framework emerge

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