In recent times, Ukraine has sent an unequivocal message to the European Union: it will not settle for second-rate membership, irrespective of France and Germany’s plans for a multi-speed EU. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, in an interview with Politico, made it abundantly clear that Ukraine is aspiring to become a “fully-fledged candidate for full-fledged membership” in the European Union. This statement comes at a critical juncture when the debate on EU enlargement is intensifying, leading up to a series of pivotal meetings in the coming months. While France and Germany have been advocating for an alternative approach to full EU membership, based on a four-tier concentric circle model, Shmyhal firmly asserts that Ukraine will not accept a gradual integration option.
Ukraine’s Unwavering Commitment
Prime Minister Shmyhal’s words resonate with determination: “We are exerting maximum efforts to ensure that Ukraine becomes a fully-fledged member of the European Union. This is of paramount importance for all Ukrainians.” He emphasizes that this decision ultimately rests with the member states, but he is confident that Ukraine will be fully prepared for EU membership within two years.
A Unique Case for Membership
Ukraine’s case for EU membership is undeniably unique. With eight countries already granted candidate status, including a group of Western Balkan nations patiently waiting for years to progress in the accession process, Ukraine stands out. Shmyhal points out that no other candidate country has received such overwhelming support from its population. Over 90 percent of Ukrainians aspire to become full-fledged European Union members. This unwavering commitment is a testament to the sacrifices Ukraine has made on its path to EU integration.
EU Consensus on Ukraine
Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Olha Stefanishyna, affirms that there is a general consensus within the European Union to initiate accession talks with Ukraine. However, she clarifies that discussions with EU member capitals will precede the final decision.
The European Commission is poised to release a report at the end of October, evaluating Ukraine’s progress in implementing the candidate recommendations. This report will play a pivotal role in determining Ukraine’s readiness for EU membership.
Ukraine’s resolute stance on EU membership quality is a reflection of its commitment to European integration. As the country continues to make strides towards fulfilling the necessary criteria, it remains steadfast in its pursuit of becoming a fully-fledged member of the European Union.