The European Commission gave its green light to start European Union (EU) accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova, the institution’s President Ursula von der Leyen said here on Wednesday as she presented the 2023 Enlargement Package.
“Ukrainians are deeply reforming their country and preparing for accession,” despite the ongoing conflict, she said, adding that “Moldova has undertaken significant reforms.”
Ukraine has made “substantial progress,” according to the Commission, on seven steps required for negotiations to open.
Ukraine’s progress includes establishing a transparent pre-selection system for the Constitutional Court judges, a reform of the judicial governance bodies, the fight against high-level corruption, strengthening the country’s institutional framework, limiting the influence of oligarchs, and aligning with the EU acquis body of common rights and obligations that is binding on all EU member states.
According to the Commission, Moldova made “important progress” on the nine steps required to start the talks.
Its progress includes a comprehensive justice reform, reform of its anti-corruption bodies, a deoligarchization action plan, fight against organized crime, adoption of a public administration strategy, reform of its public finance management, adoption of a legislation to reform public procurement, enhancing the participation of civil society in the decision-making processes, and human rights protection.
The Commission recommended that Georgia be granted candidate status “on the understanding that the government takes important reform steps.”
“Steps that mirror the genuine aspirations of the overwhelming majority of its citizens to join the European Union,” von der Leyen said.
The Commission also recommended opening accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina “once the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria is achieved.”
Ukraine applied for EU membership on Feb. 28, 2022. Moldova and Georgia submitted their applications on March 3, 2022.
In June of the same year, the European Council granted candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova.
Following the recommendation that accession negotiations should be open with Ukraine and Moldova, the Commission will issue a progress update in March 2024.