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EU Expected to Start Process of Ukraine and Moldova Becoming Member States

Key report will be first official stocktake of progress of nations in aligning themselves with the bloc

The EU is expected to fire the starting gun on the process of Ukraine and Moldova becoming member states, with a report expected to recommend formal negotiations on accession.

Moldova’s deputy prime minister, Nicolae Popescu, said such a move would be a big milestone for his country. “It will be a truly historical achievement and a truly historical chance to make sure that Moldova consolidates its place in the EU,” he said.

Late on Tuesday, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said that his country was “preparing our next steps” to join the bloc, including by strengthening its institutions, although he acknowledged that this would require work by Kyiv to “adapt to EU standards”.

“Ukraine will be in the EU,” Zelenskiy said, in his nightly television address.

A 1,200-page report will be published after midday on Wednesday and its recommendations will go to a summit in December for final signoff.

The report will be the first official stocktake of Ukraine and Moldova’s progress in aligning themselves with the EU on judicial governance, corruption, the economy, independence of media and rights for minority communities.

There will also be updates on seven other countries waiting to join the EU, including the Balkan states and Turkey, although its journey towards accession hit a roadblock some years ago.

There have been reports that the European Commission will recommend that Georgia be given official candidate status for the first time following the report.

However, all eyes will be on Ukraine and Moldova, which were granted candidate status in June 2022.

An interim report commended both countries for progress with the European Commission, concluding that Ukraine had completed two out of seven reforms with good or some progress on five.

Moldova was told it needed to make reforms in nine areas including anti-corruption and judicial governance. It had completed three of these in June, with good progress in three and some progress in the remainder.

Moldova, a country of about 2.5 million people situated between Romania and Ukraine, wouldn’t usually earn much international attention, but its vulnerability to Russian meddling has put it firmly on the EU’s enlargement radar.

Like Ukraine, Moldova believes its future security lies with the EU, and the country’s president, Maia Sandu, alleged that the Wagner group had planned a coup on the country.

Popescu said he was confident of a good outcome in Wednesday’s European Commission report as the country had been aligning itself with the EU for 15 years.

According to a discussion paper on its progress, Moldova accelerated its alignment between June and September, creating 35 working groups in preparation for the accession talks.

It has also trained about 300 civil servants on EU affairs and EU institutions and launched a screening programme to identify the EU legislative programme for accession talks.

“We have been doing many of the things the Balkans did in the spheres of the economy, foreign policy, internal security for years, but we didn’t get candidate status until last year so our experience is if you insist on keeping going, every few years you will get a breakthrough to the next level,” he said referring to the next phase of formal negotiations.

Last week, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said his country too expected a positive outcome from the commission report insisting it did not want any “discount” because of the war.

Source :The Guardian