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EU agrees on starting membership talks with Ukraine, Moldova

June 15, 2024

Member states' ambassadors have "in principle" agreed to begin accession negotiations with Kyiv and Chisinau, the Belgian EU presidency said. Hungary is to take over the rotating presidency next month.

EU, Ukrainian and member state flags in front of European Parliament building
The EU Council of Ministers has agreed to open membership negotiations with Ukraine and MoldovaImage: Dwi Anoraganingrum/Panama Pictures/IMAGO

European Union ambassadors agreed on Friday to formally start accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova, according to the Belgian EU presidency.

Ukraine applied to join the EU shortly after the start of Russia's invasion in February 2022. It and neighboring Moldova were granted candidate status four months later.

EU agrees 'in principle' to talks

"Ambassadors agreed in principle on the negotiating frameworks for the accession negotiations of Ukraine and Moldova," the Belgian presidency sad in a post.

It said that the first intergovernmental conferences will take place on June 25.

Belgium holds the EU Council of Ministers' rotating presidency until June 30.

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, welcomed the agreement in a post on X.

"We keep our promises and we will support you along the way to membership," he said.

The European Council, which is made up of the leaders of member states, is a separate body from the Council of Ministers, which is a legislative body.

It comes a week after the European Commission said that both Kyiv and Chisinau meet all the criteria for the formal start of accession negotiations.

The criteria included efforts to curb the power of oligarchs and better ensure the rights of ethnic minorities.

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Ukraine, Moldova face years of negotiations

The start of negotiations must be agreed upon by all 27 EU member states.

Candidate countries are likely to face years of reforms before they meet the criteria for EU admission.

After Belgium, Hungary is next to take on the Council of the European Union's rotating presidency. Budapest has in the past objected to EU aid to Ukraine amid Russia's invasion and has said that it has doubts about the European Commission's assessment that Kyiv is ready for accession talks.

sdi/sri (AFP, Reuters)