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FT: EU pushing to start Ukraine accession talks before Hungary assumes bloc presidency in weeks

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 7, 2024 10:23 AM 2 min read
The flags of the European Union and Ukraine outside the EU Parliament building in Brussels, Belgium, on Feb. 24, 2023. Photo for illustrative purposes (Ksenia Kuleshova/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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The European Commission will recommend that the EU start accession talks with Ukraine before July, when Hungary will assume the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, the Financial Times (FT) reported on June 7.

Belgium, the current holder of the presidency, is "pressing ahead hoping to achieve unanimity" for the move before Hungary assumes the presidency on July 1, the FT said, citing three people familiar with the matter.

Budapest has maintained close ties with the Kremlin since the launch of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and has repeatedly opposed sanctions against Moscow and obstructed EU support for Kyiv.

Politico also reported in May that EU and Ukrainian officials are pushing to begin formal accession negotiations by June 25, with intense diplomacy underway to convince Hungary to drop its objections to Kyiv's membership.

Ukraine received EU membership candidate status in June 2022. In November 2023, the European Commission recommended launching accession talks with Kyiv.

The European Council then agreed to open accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova the following month.

For talks to begin, the EU needs to unanimously agree that Ukraine has undertaken measures to improve issues like corruption and the protection of minority languages.

"Hungary is expected to raise objections," particularly on the minority language issue, the FT said.

Budapest has repeatedly claimed that the Hungarian ethnic minority concentrated in southwestern Ukraine is discriminated against due to Kyiv's language laws.

Ukraine denies the allegations and updated its national minorities law at the end of 2023 in line with the EU's recommendations.

The European Commission is also pushing for formal talks to begin with Moldova, but Georgia will not get the green light due to Tbilisi adopting the "foreign agents" law "in defiance of Brussels' warnings," the FT said.

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