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Belgium says it is 'committed' to starting Ukraine's EU accession negotiations in June

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 21, 2024 8:58 PM 2 min read
Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib on April 12, 2024, in Brussels, Belgium. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
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Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib said on May 21 that Belgium is "committed" to beginning Ukraine's EU accession negotiations before the end of its rotating presidency at the beginning of July.

In November 2023, the European Commission—the EU's executive arm—recommended launching accession talks with Ukraine. The European Council then agreed to open accession talks with Ukraine the following month.

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola announced during a visit to Kyiv on May 9 that official negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the EU should begin before the end of the first half of 2024.

Lahbib's comments followed reporting by Politico earlier on May 21 that officials from the EU and Ukraine are pushing to begin accession negotiations by June 25.

Diplomats are reportedly trying to convince Hungary to drop its objections to Kyiv's membership in the bloc.

Bucking attempts to create a unified front against Russia, Hungary has maintained close ties with the Kremlin since the launch of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Budapest has repeatedly opposed sanctions against Moscow and obstructed EU support for Kyiv.

An unnamed EU diplomat told Politico that Hungary may be keen to get the issue resolved before it takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the EU in July.

"As you know, the Hungarian presidency of the Council of the EU begins on July 1, so it is important to make the necessary decisions before that, during the Belgian presidency," Metsola said in May.

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