European Parliament President Roberta Metsola has called on the European Union (EU) to initiate accession negotiations with Ukraine during the upcoming December European Council meeting. Metsola emphasized that the EU should be fully prepared for further enlargement, underlining that the accession process, which currently applies to 27 countries, should also be adapted to accommodate potential new member states, including Ukraine.
Metsola stressed that the pre-accession phase should not be underestimated and that open negotiations with Ukraine should commence before the end of this year. She emphasized that it is crucial for the EU to provide a response to countries like Ukraine that aspire to EU membership. Metsola believes that the EU can enhance its security by extending membership opportunities to all countries willing to undertake the necessary reforms.
This isn't the first time that Metsola has expressed her strong support for Ukraine's bid to join the EU. In March of this year, she made an unannounced trip to Lviv and discussed Ukraine's EU aspirations with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. During the visit, Metsola expressed her hope that accession negotiations could commence in 2023.
In June of this year, Metsola reiterated her stance, stating her desire for the EU to launch substantial negotiations on Ukraine's EU membership bid by the end of the year. She emphasized the need for the EU to uphold its promises and open negotiations, highlighting Ukraine's remarkable efforts in implementing reforms, even in the midst of the conflict with Russia.
Ukraine officially sought immediate admission to the EU under a new special procedure on February 28, 2022, following Russia's full-scale invasion of the country on February 24, 2022. In June 2022, both Ukraine and Moldova were granted EU candidate status. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal expressed optimism in January of this year, stating his hope that Ukraine would become a full member of the EU within the next two years.
The conflict in Ukraine has led to a significant number of Ukrainians seeking refuge and international protection in other EU countries. According to data from the European Office for Statistics, as of June 30, 2023, EU member states had granted temporary protection to approximately 4.07 million Ukrainians, with Germany receiving the largest share of refugees granted temporary protection.
Metsola's call to open accession negotiations with Ukraine reflects the EU's ongoing commitment to expansion and its recognition of the importance of fostering strong ties with countries in its neighborhood.
By fLEXI tEAM