Ukraine has "a very ambitious plan" to join the European Union within the next two years, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told Politico.
"So we expect that this year, in 2023, we can already have the pre-entry stage of negotiations," Shmyhal said ahead of the EU-Ukraine summit, set to take place in Kyiv on Feb. 3.
European Council granted Ukraine candidate status on June 23, in a historic step on the long and difficult path to EU membership for the war-torn country.
French President Emmanuel Macron said in May that "decades" could pass before Ukraine's accession. Other EU leaders, who supported Ukraine's candidate status, privately admit that Ukraine's prospect of actually joining the EU is quite remote, according to Politico.
Shmyhal also told Politico that he hopes Ukraine could make a "significant leap forward" at the upcoming EU-Ukraine summit, particularly in the following areas: a visa-free agreement for industrial goods, suspension of customs duties on Ukrainian exports for another year as well as joining the SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) payment scheme and Ukraine's inclusion in the EU mobile roaming zone.
According to Shmyhal, the Ukrainian government is ready to review the recently adopted legislation on the Constitutional Court in order to meet the requirements of both the European Commission and the Venice Commission. The changes to the law may be implemented even before the Feb. 3 summit, Prime Minister said.
The Ukraine-EU summit is an annual event as part of Article 5 of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU. The Feb. 3 summit's theme is expected to be the EU's further support for Ukraine in the face of Russia's aggression.