The European Union's executive body is set to provide its opinion on Wednesday, Nov. 8, regarding whether Ukraine is prepared to start formal membership negotiations, as support grows for Kyiv's desire to join the bloc.
Ukraine initiated its bid to become part of the European Union following Russia's full-scale invasion in 2022 and officially gained candidate status last June.
Currently, the European Commission is on the brink of announcing its judgment on whether Kyiv has fulfilled its initial reform commitments, AFP reports.
The decision to initiate negotiations will be left to the EU's 27 leaders at a summit in December.
It's widely anticipated in Brussels that both Ukraine and Moldova, a former Soviet neighbor, will receive the Commission's approval to move to the next stage.
Over the weekend, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen commended Kyiv for achieving "way over 90 percent" of the seven reform benchmarks set by Brussels, which include combating corruption and limiting the power of oligarchs.
During her visit to Kyiv, she expressed her confidence in Ukraine's ability to reach its ambitious goal.
"That is, for the historic decision to open the process of accession negotiations to be taken already this year," she said.
The way towards EU will be long and tough
However, if Ukraine does receive approval, it will just be the beginning of a long process of reforms that may last for many years, before it can become a member of the EU.
Turkey initiated accession talks in 2005, but those talks have since stalled. Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia are currently engaged in negotiations as well.
Nevertheless, a positive signal from the EU could provide a significant boost to Ukraine, particularly at a challenging time when there are questions about continued support from the United States.
"Ukraine will make the European Union stronger and more secure, and together we will increase stability in all of Europe" Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated ahead of the upcoming report.
At the same time, diplomats from EU member states supporting Kyiv acknowledge that the December debate will be tough, and approval to initiate talks may depend on further reforms.
Some countries, such as the Netherlands, insist on adhering to the full membership process without shortcuts, while Hungary, a close ally of Russia within the EU, accuses Kyiv of suppressing the rights of ethnic Hungarians.
"It's obviously heated and difficult - if it weren't, we'd have already reached a compromise decision. I'm optimistic that we'll be able to get it done. The issue is that it's likely to be conditional, not the end of the road," a senior European diplomat said.
Admitting a war-torn nation of over 40 million people would be a significant shift, entailing substantial costs for the EU. Some member states argue that the EU should first reform itself before considering further expansion.
"There are substantial issues. Some of them could be debated for a century without reaching a consensus," An EU diplomat commented.
Ukraine will be part of EU, Zelensky vows
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed confidence that his country will ultimately become a part of the European Union.
"Tomorrow is an important day", he said in his daily address to the nation, describing the forthcoming report as "historic".
Zelensky said that his country was "preparing our next steps", including by strengthening its institutions.
"Ukraine will be in the EU," Zelensky said, referring to the "long way" already travelled toward the goal.
He acknowledged that this would require work by Kyiv to "adapt to EU standards".
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter