EU envoy explains developments if members derail Ukraine's application, delay accession

The Ambassador of the European Union to Ukraine, Katarina Mathernova, shared the next steps after the recommendation of the European Commission to start negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the EU and what will happen if one of the countries does not support the decision, and also voiced her assessments about how long these negotiations can last.

Mathernova noted that after the recommendation of the European Commission, the further decision on the start of negotiations will depend on the 27 member states. The decision must be unanimous, it will be adopted at the meeting of the Council of Europe in mid-December.

However, she does not rule out that one or several EU countries may not support this decision. The envoy said that this has already happened in the past – for example, with North Macedonia. In this case, additional consultations are held, and a "sort of a step back" takes place.

REFERENCE. North Macedonia's accession to the EU has been on the bloc's future enlargement agenda since 2005, when it was granted candidate status. In March 2020, the EU Council approved the start of negotiations on the accession of Albania and North Macedonia to the European Union, but in the fall Bulgaria vetoed the negotiations on the accession of new countries to the bloc. On June 24, 2022, the Bulgarian parliament lifted the veto. On July 19, Albania and North Macedonia started negotiations on joining the European Union. As the head of the government of North Macedonia Dimitar Kovačevski noted, the negotiations started after 17 years of waiting.

However, the EU ambassador believes that this will not happen with Ukraine, because "extraordinary work" has been done.

Commenting on Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal's words that Ukraine expects to go through negotiations on joining the EU in less than two years, Mathernova warned that certain technical difficulties may arise, and "disappointment" can be expected along the way.

However, she stressed that she has reason to believe that Ukraine will advance on the path to the EU "much faster than other countries."

"I don't think that two years is such a [timeline] that should be taken as a given. But I would really hope to see Ukraine in the European Union in this decade," the envoy said.

Today, the European Commission recommended starting negotiations on the accession of Ukraine and Moldova to the EU. Ursula von der Leyen called this decision "historic".

Politico wrote that the European Union is preparing to officially announce the start of accession negotiations in December 2023.