EU approves launch of Ukraine accession talks in major step forward
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The leaders of the member states of the European Union decided to start negotiations with Ukraine on joining the EU, announced the head of the European Council, Charles Michel.

The EU Council also decided to start accession negotiations with Moldova.

In addition, the institution granted candidate status to Georgia, and the bloc will start negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina "once the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria is reached". A report on such a decision will be issued in March.

Michel called it "a clear signal of hope for their people and for our continent."

"Victory for Ukraine. Victory for all of Europe. Victory that motivates, inspires and strengthens," President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded to the news.

He thanked everyone who worked on it and helped, and also congratulated every Ukrainian on this day.

Separately, Zelenskyy congratulated Moldova and its President Maia Sandu.

What's next?

In March 2024, the Commission should publish a report on Ukraine's progress according to four criteria (two anti-corruption, the law on lobbying, and the issue of national minorities).

In the case of a positive assessment, the EU summit must adopt a negotiation framework (in simple words, a negotiation plan). After that, substantive negotiations will begin. Ukraine's full accession to the EU can realistically be expected closer to the end of the decade, predicted Katarina Mathernova, ambassador of the European Union in Kyiv.

On February 28, 2022, Zelenskyy signed an application for Ukraine's membership in the European Union.

On Thursday morning, the Ukrainian leader spoke via video link at the meeting of the European Council. He told the EU leaders that today "the determination will be either in Brussels or in Moscow" and reminded them of "the decision that was promised".

At the same time, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban once again opposed the start of negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the EU.