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Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that Ukraine would not get "any discounts" on its way to EU membership and must fully implement all the requirements to start the accession talks.
"They will not get any discounts like we didn't get any. These are difficult reforms, but they have to be fulfilled," Kallas told a press conference before the June 29 summit of EU leaders.
So far, Ukraine has fully completed only two out of seven steps outlined by the European Commission. Those are the judicial system reform with the creation of the High Council of Justice and the High Qualification Commission of Judges and bringing media legislation into full compliance with the EU directive.
Denmark's Foreign Minister also believes the EU should not "lower the bar" to speed up the accession of Ukraine and other candidate countries.
"If you don't complete the reform process before you enter, then there could be a risk of slowing down afterward. And we do not export stability, we risk importing instability. And that's why it is so important to stress the need of fulfilling the [EU membership] criteria," Lars Løkke Rasmussen told the Financial Times.
Rasmussen added that if there was going to be "special treatment" for Ukraine, it should be in the form of additional assistance by EU governments to help Kyiv meet the standards, as the process had been too bureaucratic in the past.
After presenting an interim assessment on June 22, the European Commission will give an official written evaluation of Ukraine's progress in fulfilling the EU's candidate criteria in October 2023.
On June 23, President Volodymyr Zelensky pledged that Ukraine would implement the remaining five requirements to launch the membership talks already this year. The Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Ukraine's EU accession also said it's manageable.
Ukraine officially applied for EU membership in late February 2022, just days after Russia began bombing Kyiv and other cities, starting an all-out war against the country. Ukraine was granted candidacy status in June.