The European Commission has delivered a first update on Ukraine’s progress in its path towards EU membership.
The war-torn nation has fully met two of the seven conditions that Brussels established as part of Ukraine’s candidacy.
The steps are considered essential to start accession negotiations on a formal basis, something Kyiv would like to see happen before the end of the year.
The completed reforms relate to the composition of two high-level judicial bodies and the media sector, whose legislation was amended to align with EU standards.
Ukraine has made “good progress” on a third requirement – the selection of judges for the Constitutional Court – and “some progress” on the remaining four: the fight against corruption, the prevention of money laundering, the mitigation of the excessive influence exerted by oligarchs, and the protection of national minorities.
The update was delivered on Thursday by Olivér Várhelyi, the European Commissioner for enlargement, during a meeting with ministers in Stockholm.
“Ukraine needs to build a credible track record of prosecutions and convictions and to ensure a steady fight against corruption,” Várhelyi said regarding one of the pending tasks.
The seven conditions were first laid out in June 2022, when the European Commission positively assessed Ukraine’s initial bid, submitted in the early days of Russia’s invasion.
EU leaders later endorsed the analysis and declared Ukraine a candidate country to join the bloc, under the assumption the country would fulfill the seven requirements before moving on to the next phase.
The update delivered on Thursday is only a preview of an extensive, country-by-country enlargement report that is scheduled to be published in the autumn. The report will be used by EU leaders to decide whether to open accession talks with Kyiv, a highly complex and technical process that can last for years.
Várhelyi said Ukraine could satisfy the seven conditions by October, despite the ongoing war, which he described as the “biggest obstacle” in the country’s European ambitions.
“This is a snapshot. In October, these (steps) are not going to be the only criteria which we would be looking at,” Várhelyi said.
“Getting candidate status was a challenge,” the Commissioner added. “Starting accession negotiations is another challenge.”