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EC Recommends Opening Negotiations with Moldova, Ukraine

Commission advises opening of EU membership talks with Ukraine and Moldova – hailing the progress made in each country – but puts talks with Bosnia on hold.

The European Commission recommended on Wednesday the opening of accession negotiations to the European Union of both Ukraine and Moldova.

“We recommend that the [European] Council opens accession negotiations with Moldova. The country has undertaken significant reform efforts, despite constant destabilisation efforts against its democracy,” the Commission said.

“Today is a historic day because today the Commission recommends that the Council opens accession negotiations with Ukraine and with Moldova … Completing our Union also has a strong economic and geopolitical logic. Past enlargements have shown enormous benefits for the accession countries and the EU. We all win,” said the Commission President, Ursula Von der Leyen.

According to the Commission’s report, Moldova has progressed in the justice sector.  It said Moldova had made significant progress in meeting the nine steps set out in the Commission Opinion on Moldova’s EU membership application.

Still, deeper reforms are expected in the fight against corruption and organised crime. The report drew attention to the length of legal proceedings, low clearance rates and the large backlog of cases negatively affecting the judicial system’s efficiency.

“There was no significant progress in the prosecution of high-profile corruption cases and long-standing criminal cases,” said the report.

The President of Moldova, Maia Sandu, said the recommendation recognised the joint efforts of Moldova’s institutions and citizens.

“This step is a recognition of our joint effort – of the state institutions, which work to transform the country, as well as of the citizens, who choose peace, democracy and development,” Sandu said.

The EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said: “Moldova belongs to the EU. The EU’s door is open. You have made remarkable efforts to progress on the path towards the EU”, he tweeted.

Romanian MEP Siegfried Muresan hailed the decision to start accession negotiations, saying: “The future of Moldova is in the EU, and Russia’s influence in the region is decreasing.”

However, the final decision will be taken in a unanimous political vote on December 14-15 by the European Council, which is made up of the heads of state and government of the EU member states.

Regarding Ukraine, the EC also recommended that the Council opens accession negotiations. “Ukrainians are deeply reforming their country. They are prepared for accession, even if they are fighting the Russian full-scale aggression,” said the report.

The chairman of Ukraine’s parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, said the decision marked a “long-awaited recognition of Ukraine’s progress towards EU membership”.

The report said Ukraine had demonstrated resolve in making progress on meeting the seven steps of the European Commission’s Opinion on Ukraine’s EU membership application, even in wartime.

“Ukraine has established a transparent pre-selection system for the Constitutional Court judges and reformed the judicial governance bodies,” said the report.

The Commission also recommended granting candidate status to Georgia, urging the government there to take reform steps that mirror the aspirations of most of its citizens to join the EU.

The EC by-passed Bosnia and Herzegovina. It said it would recommend the opening of accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina “once the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria is achieved”.

Source : Balkan Insight