Ukraine ‘very prepared’ for next steps in EU bid, says Deputy PM – EURACTIV.com
Ukraine will complete the second part of a questionnaire on political and economic criteria for EU membership by the end of this week and expects a positive response in June, the deputy prime minister told EURACTIV. in charge of European integration, Olha Stefanishyna, but added that Kyiv understands “there is no fast track” to EU membership.
Ukraine completed the first part of the EU membership questionnaire – one of the key steps at the start of a country’s EU candidacy – on April 18 at a record speed of just 10 days .
According to EU officials, it is expected that the European Commission’s recommendation on whether the bloc’s leaders should discuss the next steps in the accession process could be drafted in May and ready to go. by the end of June.
EURACTIV understands that the second questionnaire covers 33 areas of cooperation between Ukraine and the bloc.
Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, said Kyiv was confident the responses would include “all the context” for the European Commission to issue a positive opinion.
“We are absolutely capable, and the European Commission is absolutely capable, of ensuring that before the June summit all procedures are completed,” she said, also confirming that Kyiv had put pressure on the Member States for this purpose.
Asked if she expects opposition from some member states in the next stage of the bid process, after a positive opinion, Stefanishyna said that “Ukraine fully recognizes that there is no ‘there is no ‘fast track’ to membership”.
Although the Ukrainian process should be a little faster than that of other EU member states, it is likely to be long. Croatia, the newest member of the EU, took 10 years to join the bloc.
“We understand that this is only the beginning of the long road we are going to travel,” Stefanishyna said when asked about Kyiv’s expectations for the speed of the process.
“But the EU should not err in deciding not to grant Ukraine candidate status because there is a high level of preparation for this decision to be taken,” she added.
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has warned the bloc should not repeat NATO’s mistake in Bucharest in 2008 when the alliance decided it would not yet offer membership to Georgia and Europe Ukraine.
“Since that, we have heard the same message here for more than 60 days of war,” she said, adding that the war has proven Ukraine’s compatibility not only on the battlefield but also through the reform program.
According to her, the historical error has become a lesson learned in the case of Finland and Sweden.
“If Sweden and Finland were able to wait 15 years before gaining accession, they would start a war on their territory,” she said, warning that if the EU did not take a positive decision in June, it “would also demotivate the Ukrainians who would think that the European leaders do not believe in our victory”.
“For us, it is really important that in June the EU leaders do not make this mistake, and we will make this decision and leave no way for Russia to seek to undermine unity in terms of the Ukrainian perspective. “, she added.
She also said French, German and Italian leaders are expected to come to Kyiv on May 9 to celebrate Europe Day “while Putin sits alone watching his tanks in Red Square.”
When asked if it could be detrimental to Ukraine that the Western Balkan countries North Macedonia and Albania have not yet been given the green light to start accession negotiations despite the status as a candidate for years, Stefanishyna said that “if it weren’t for the Ukrainian candidacy, the dialogue on enlargement might not have been revived on the Western Balkans”.
“We see this not as an obstacle but as an opportunity for the Western Balkans to relaunch the whole narrative on EU enlargement,” she added.
Applicants for EU membership typically face a long and complex process that often requires major reforms to reach bloc standards for political and economic convergence.
“Ukraine has managed to implement more than 70% of all legal compliance obligations under the Association Agreement with the EU,” Stefanishyna said.
According to kyiv, this would include the fact that the EU has already assessed the Ukrainian market, legislation and companies in the areas of digital, economy, transport and energy, as well as the removal of trade barriers and declared an ambitious climate agenda.
“That’s what we’re talking about when we talk about the ‘fast track’ process because we already have significant experience and our connections,” Stefanishyna said.
“In times of war, we have a fully functioning government, fully functioning institutions, a fully functioning banking and financial sector, which has almost never been the case in any country that has been at war,” he said. she adds.
In March, Ukraine also became part of the EU energy system, which means it joined the European energy network ENTSO-E,
“It was unprecedented as we managed to pass all the tests in 24 hours, which was done under shelling and shelling,” Stefanishyna said.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]