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European Commission recommends accession talks with Ukraine, Moldova once conditions met

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08-11-2023 (updated: 08-11-2023 )

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News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (R) and European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi (L) arrive to give a press conference on the EU’s 2023 enlargement package and the new Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, in Brussels, Belgium, 08 November 2023. [EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET]

*This is a developing story.

The European Commission on Wednesday (8 November) recommended the opening of accession talks with Ukraine, and Moldova – as well as at a much later stage potentially Bosnia – once they finalise implementing key outstanding reforms.

“In light of the results achieved by Ukraine and Moldova, and of the ongoing reform efforts, the Commission has recommended that the Council opens accession negotiations with both countries,” the EU’s executive announced.

The talks should formally be launched once Kyiv satisfies the remaining conditions related to stepping up the fight against corruption, adopting a law on lobbying in line with EU standards and strengthening national minority safeguards, it added.

The European Commission made a similar recommendation for Moldova, once Chisinau has fulfilled the remaining of their outstanding nine recommendations, which include the need to finalise judicial reforms and introduce further anti-graft measures.

“Enlargement is a vital policy for the European Union. Completing our Union is the call of history, the natural horizon of our Union,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

“Past enlargements have shown the enormous benefits both for the accession countries and the EU. We all win,” von der Leyen added.

The EU’s executive also said stands ready to back accession talks for Bosnia and Herzegovina – the only of the six Western Balkan candidate countries not yet in official talks – “once the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria is achieved”.

On Wednesday, the European Commission also recommended to updgrade Georgia to receive official EU candidate status once it meets certain conditions, seventeen months after it was named a ‘potential candidate’.

The next step will be for EU leaders to back the Commission’s enlargement recommendation when they meet for their regular summit in December.

Euractiv understands that if there is a political agreement in December and greenlight, the technical preparatory work on a negotiating framework will start immediately and a first Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) – at least for Ukraine – could be held as soon as March 2024.

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