Evaluation by the European Commission of Ukraine’s progress in fulfilling the recommendation for EU accession will be presented in May and by then, Kyiv will complete the implementation of most of them, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, Olha Stefanishyna, told European Pravda.
Stefanishyna said the assessment presentation will be preceded by a discussion between EU member states and Ukraine in March, while the first formalised assessment is expected in late spring.
The European Commission recommended EU candidate status for Ukraine last June, on the understanding that Kyiv undertakes a series of legislative and policy steps, dubbed the seven recommendations.
“I will invite my colleagues to Ukraine and I believe that an EU General Affairs Council meeting could take place in Kyiv,” Stefanishyna told European Pravda, adding that “preliminary talks will also occur in Kyiv during visits of various levels”.
She said she would take part in a European Affairs ministers meeting on 20 March to discuss the seven recommendations.
To help Kyiv identify problematic issues, the European Commission agreed to present an ‘oral interim assessment’ of Ukraine’s progress in the spring, with the date yet to be confirmed.
While European affairs ministers are scheduled to meet in Brussels on 30 May, according to Stefanishyna, EU member states could also meet separately to consider the Ukrainian issue but “the date of this meeting has not yet been determined.”
Ukraine will almost fully complete the implementation of the seven criteria by that time, Stefanishyna said.
“Several blocs have already been politically completed, technical issues remain (…) There will remain tasks related to implementing the law on national minorities,” she said.
Ukraine rushing to show progress on EU-bound reforms
Ukraine is pressing ahead with reforms like never before, despite the ongoing war, Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna told EURACTIV as Kyiv is racing to demonstrate progress in the face of growing signals that it is unlikely to get preferential treatment on its EU path.
According to the deputy prime minister’s assessment, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada will by that time pass a law on the advertising market in Ukraine, which will allow Kyiv to declare the fulfilment of the criteria for media reform.
“The head of NABU [National Anti-Corruption Bureau] has been appointed. The concept of reforming law enforcement agencies has been prepared and must be approved by the president’s decision. The process of selecting members of the expert advisory group will be completed. Thus, we are closing the anti-corruption, law enforcement, and judicial bloc,” she said.
Stefanishyna is also confident in the positive assessment of the reform of the system of selection of judges of the Constitutional Court.
However, Ukraine will not appoint the seventh member of the Advisory Group of Experts (DGE), as initially recommended by the Venice Commission.
Instead, Ukraine will make other changes to the selection procedure, which will give international experts the right to jointly block the selection in case of disagreement with Ukrainian colleagues.
“We did not find any legal grounds for having a seventh expert,” Stefanishyna said.
Ukraine renews case for membership to visiting EU top officials
Ukraine’s leadership on Thursday (2 February) made an unequivocal plea for EU membership as the bloc’s top officials met their government counterparts in Kyiv in a first-of-its-kind gathering.
“We negotiated with the Venice Commission and the European Commission and we agreed that the selection model of Constitutional Court judges would be based on the models used for other judicial bodies, such as the Supreme Council of Justice. In particular, the decision of the SCJ will be adopted by four votes,” she explained.
According to the deputy prime minister, this approach was supported by the EU’s executive: “We have agreed with the European Commission and will continue to talk about how to launch the competition – expected in late April.”
The EU is also set to include the ‘anti-oligarchic’ criterion, even though Ukraine is in no hurry to implement it in its initial form.
Instead, the Ukrainian government has promised to shift to reducing the influence of oligarchs through anti-monopoly and anti-corruption measures without drawing up a controversial “oligarch register.”
“In times of war, naming and shaming, especially naming certain persons who are subject to this law, is not a priority,” Stefanishyna said.