European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and European Council President Charles Michel met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi in Kyiv on Friday, February 3 for a historic EU-Ukraine summit. The leaders issued a joint statement reflecting Ukraine’s and the EU’s views and expectations of the country’s EU accession path.
Ukraine will be an EU member state
In Kyiv, European leaders sent a signal that Ukraine will become an EU member state. “Europe is with you for as long as it takes – until the day when the Ukrainian flag will be raised where it belongs: in Brussels at the heart of the European Union,” Ursula von der Leyen said as the EU College of Commissioners met with the Ukrainian government in Kyiv. The summit decision that was agreed by all member states is clearly phrased.
Kyiv has to implement all seven steps of Commission’s recommendations
“The EU reiterated its commitment to support Ukraine’s further European integration. The EU will decide on further steps once all conditions specified in the Commission’s opinion are fully met. Ukraine underlined its determination to meet the necessary requirements in order to start accession negotiations as soon as possible,” the joint statement that followed the summit reads.
Brussels reaffirms the need for Ukraine to implement all seven steps of the European Commission’s recommendations in order to convince the skeptics in the EU and begin accession talks. Ukraine has to complete them before the talks open, the EU leaders emphasized at the summit. Kyiv said it understands that.
EU satisfied with reform pace in Ukraine
“The EU acknowledged the considerable efforts that Ukraine demonstrated in the recent months towards meeting the objectives underpinning its candidate status for EU membership, welcomed Ukraine’s reform efforts in such difficult times, and encouraged the country to continue on this path and to fulfil the conditions specified in the Commission’s opinion on its membership application in order to advance towards future EU membership,” the joint statement reads.
The EU is satisfied with Ukraine’s reform pace amid the war.
Ukraine’s reforms of judiciary, Constitution Court are priority to assess progress
“We reaffirmed that comprehensive and consistent implementation of judicial reforms, in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission, including the reform of the Constitutional Court and the selection procedure of politically independent and qualified constitutional judges, remains vital for strengthening Ukraine’s resilience and for progress on the enlargement process,” the joint statement that follows the summit reads.
The EU insisted on including the paragraph to emphasize that Ukraine’s possible attempts to side-step the requirements to reform the Constitution Court will not work. The reforms of judiciary and the Constitution Court are a priority to assess the overall progress.
Accession talks could begin in 2023
“The EU reiterated that the Commission has been invited to report on the fulfilment of the conditions specified in the Commission’s opinion on Ukraine’s membership application as part of its regular enlargement package in 2023. Without prejudice to this comprehensive regular reporting, we take note of the Commission’s intention to provide an update in spring 2023 which will also be conveyed to Ukraine through the appropriate channels,” the joint statement reads.
Accession negotiations could begin already in 2023 if there is reform progress — that is what’s enveloped in the bureaucratic phrasing. That is Ukraine’s biggest win on the path toward accession. The EU will provide a written assessment of Ukraine’s progress in spring 2023.
Ukraine will have time to complete its “homework” by autumn. It is then that the EU could make a decision to begin the accession talks. Ukraine’s reform progress is key.
No difference in status between Crimea and occupied parts of Ukraine’s east, south, EU says. Ukraine has right to retake Crimea by military operation
“We firmly reject and unequivocally condemn the attempted illegal annexation by Russia of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. As in the case of Crimea and Sevastopol, the European Union will never recognise as lawful any attempted illegal annexations of any parts of Ukrainian territory. We demand that Russia immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.”
“We demand that Russia immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. (…) Ukraine is exercising its inherent right of self-defence against the Russian aggression. It has the right to liberate and regain full control of all occupied territories within its internationally recognised borders,” the joint statement reads.
That is probably the key “military” part of the decision. Ukraine’s right to retake Crimea through a military operation is asserted in an international document for the first time.
EU supports Zelenskyi’s peace plan
“We support the idea of a Peace Formula Summit aiming at launching its implementation,” the joint statement reads.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi first presented a 10-point peace plan to end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the G20 meeting in November. The steps include a path to Russia’s capitulation, liberation of all of Ukraine, Russia’s reparations to rebuild the country etc.
Challenges for the Ukrainian book market in the times of war. Ukraine in Flames #330
In February 2022, the Ukrainian book market faced unprecedented challenges. Kharkiv, the book printing capital of Ukraine, found itself on the front line. This was felt by all publishers, regardless of the region in which their main office was located. At the same time, the demand for Ukrainian books abroad has increased, as well as the demand for the purchase of licenses for the publication of Ukrainian authors. Watch Ukraine in flames #330 to find out how the Ukrainian book market not only continued to exist, but also found strength and opportunities to develop and expand.
- Iryna Grabovska, Writer
- Eduard Andrushchenko, Historian
- Olena Kuzmina, Writer
- Kostiantyn Konovalov, Writer, Screenwriter, Film Director