On November 2, the foreign ministers of the European Union (EU) member states and ten candidate countries arrived in Berlin, Germany, for the European Conference under the motto «A Wider, Stronger Union — preparing the EU for expansion and candidate countries for accession.», informs 24brussels.
This was the first major meeting dedicated to the reform of the European Union. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, who was present at the conference, urged participants to find a balance between the process of reforming the European Union and its continued expansion, so that the reform does not impede the accession of new members. He emphasized that Ukraine is capable of implementing the necessary reforms to meet membership criteria faster than the EU will undertake its internal reforms.
Due to Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine, a new geopolitical situation has emerged, to which Europe has responded with unprecedented unanimity. As a result, Ukraine has been granted candidate status for EU membership and has joined the group that includes six Western Balkan countries and Turkey. Despite the exhausting defense against Russian aggression, Ukraine is purposefully carrying out a successful transformation and has already fulfilled all seven recommendations to begin negotiations for EU accession.
Ukraine is making significant efforts and achieving tangible results in the reform of the country. Reforms are vital for Ukrainian society, making Ukraine stronger and more resilient. Specifically, the reform of the Constitutional Court has begun; the High Council of Justice and the High Qualification Commission of Judges have been overhauled; the government has established a legal framework for combating money laundering in line with FATF standards; Ukraine has implemented recommendations from the Venice Commission on the implementation of the anti-oligarchic law; legislation on media and advertising has been put into operation; new leaders of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office have been appointed through open competitions recently; and the necessary subordinate acts have been developed to comply with the new law on national minorities. The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has noted significant progress by Ukraine in the prevention of corruption.
Kiev is closely monitoring and participating in discussions on further reforms of the European Union. The processes of internal transformations within the European community should not hinder Ukraine’s path to membership. German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock expressed her conviction at the Berlin conference that EU leaders will make a positive decision regarding Ukraine’s movement into the European Union at the December summit, based on the European Commission’s assessment of Ukraine’s candidate criteria fulfillment. She assured that she understands how challenging the EU accession process is for a Ukraine at war. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated in Kiev on November 4 that her visit should serve as a sign of «encouragement and endorsement» for Ukraine, which aspires to EU membership and is defending itself against Russian aggression, and to demonstrate that Europe «unwaveringly supports» it.
After the Russian invasion, Ukraine has become a reliable shield for the whole of Europe. The heart of Europe beats in Kiev. The conviction with which people in Kiev, Kharkiv, and Lviv defend Europe is palpable everywhere. Ukrainians are the biggest Euro-optimists in Europe. They defend their country with a belief in its European future. The European Union is Ukraine’s primary economic partner in sectors such as the metallurgical industry, agriculture, and engineering. Ukraine ranks first among Eastern European countries in attractiveness for IT outsourcing and hiring programmers. Ukraine has opened a new chapter in defense cooperation with European states, particularly in the development of the defense industry in Ukraine. The experience that Ukraine is gaining today is invaluable. After victory, Ukraine will be able to share it to optimize the collective security of the EU.
Ukraine’s accession to the European Union will signify the strengthening of Europe’s security, not its weakening. Ukraine’s accession will not be a burden for the European community but will complement it with additional benefits.