On November 8, the European Commission recommended opening EU accession negotiations with Ukraine. Now Ukrainian officials are planning Ukraine's next steps on the way to accession, namely direct negotiations with the EU and the required reforms.
Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine, plays a key role in this process.
provides an extended synopsis of Stefanishyna's speech about Ukraine's plans, our readiness, and options for settling the crisis on the Polish border with minor cuts at the annual meeting of the European Business Association.
A good sign for the Ukraine-EU accession talks
One important thing I want to emphasize is that the European Commission recommended Ukraine accession negotiations in its report without any additional conditions. The negotiations are expected to open on December 15, and the opening has to be endorsed by all the EU countries.
We have already collected feedback from EU member states on this report. It’s important for us that member states do not accuse the European Commission of favoritism. Indeed, compared to the other eight countries, we are making strong progress despite the war.
Today, even the most fastidious countries, such as the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany, have recognized the objectivity of the assessment. This is very important because it shows a consensus.
Ukraine has a strategy regarding Hungary and Slovakia
Of course, there are countries that try to raise the stakes regarding the political vote in December. However, we have a strategy for each of the problematic areas.
I cannot make any spectacular promises because every statement I make finds countermeasures in Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland — we are already playing these political games. But we definitely have a strategy, and we are sure that it works.
"In December, the public will know the next steps"
Moreover, as early as March 2024, you will understand what negotiating framework Ukraine and the European Union have. By the end of 2024, we can already establish certain "red lines".
We have already analyzed the list of all our future commitments as a member and understand the scope of the decisions we have to make before we become one. Our first negotiation group with the EU has already met on November 14. We have learned two new phrases:
- the non-negotiable part (those that must be fulfilled unconditionally — );
- we will show you how to do it (obligations with recommendations — ).
Will the EU fund reforms in Ukraine?
The Ukraine Facility fund (the €50 billion funding program) doesn’t really cover the reforms associated with EU accession. So, there will be additional funds and additional programs to implement the reforms. There will be clarity at each stage.
The Ukraine Facility program is intended to support the macro-financial situation and economic growth. The money allocated to help us join the EU is the only development budget, while all other assistance is to help Ukraine survive.
Settling the issue with Polish truckers blocking the Ukrainian border
People lose political interest when there are strong ties between businesses, so these ties have to be strengthened and be mutually beneficial.
We need to find our place in the large Eastern European market, which is why we need the deployment of enterprises, jobs, competition, and opportunities for Polish business in Ukraine. All this will minimize political speculation in this case.
The tension arises not because Ukrainians export through Poland or because Ukrainians live in Poland, but because Ukrainians are forced to do so because of Russia’s war. We always remind our partners in neighboring countries and other countries about this. The tension must prompt increased efforts to end the war and achieve our victory.
By the way, we have made a decision together with the European Commission that we will focus investments on the development of border and customs communication with Romania, the Danube Canal. This decision has already been made, and although it will not have an instant effect, the railway through Romania is already open.