EC recommends opening EU membership talks with Ukraine, Moldova

The European Commission (EC), in its 2023 enlargement package released on November 8, recommended opening European Union membership negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova.

The EC recommended granting candidate status to Georgia, and opening accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, once the necessary degree of compliance is achieved.

In its report on Ukraine, the EC said in spite of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022 and Russia’s brutal war of aggression, Ukraine has continued to progress on democratic and rule of law reforms.

The granting of candidate status for EU accession to Ukraine in June 2022 had further accelerated reform efforts, the EC said.

Ukraine submitted its application for EU membership on February 28 2022, four days after the start of Russia’s current invasion. The European Council granted candidate status to Ukraine on June 23 2022.

The EC said that the Ukrainian government and Parliament demonstrated resolve in making substantial progress on meeting the seven steps of the European Commission Opinion on Ukraine’s EU membership application.

Ukraine has established a transparent pre-selection system for the Constitutional Court judges and reformed the judicial governance bodies.

It has further developed its track record of high-level corruption investigations and convictions and strengthened its institutional framework, the EC said.

Ukraine has taken positive steps in a wider and systemic effort to address the influence of oligarchs.

The country has also demonstrated its capacity to make progress in aligning with the EU acquis, even during wartime. 

In its report on Moldova, the EC said that Moldova – which applied on March 3 2022 for EU membership – had continued reform efforts to strengthen democracy and the rule of law despite multiple challenges linked to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

The EC said that Moldova had made important progress on meeting the nine steps set out in the Commission Opinion on Moldova’s EU membership application.

It said that Moldova had launched a comprehensive justice reform following the Venice Commission recommendations, including by evaluating prominent judges and prosecutors.

The country reformed its anti-corruption bodies and increased the number of investigations and convictions in corruption cases.

Moldova adopted a deoligarchisation action plan, which it implements following set timelines.

New legislation to set up a confiscation mechanism helps fight organised crime.

The country adopted a public administration strategy and follows the reform at all levels.

It worked to reform its public finance management and adopted legislation to reform public procurement.

Moldova had enhanced the participation of civil society in the decision-making process and has strengthened the protection of human rights, the EC said.

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