Ukraine and Moldova Begin EU Accession Talks

Ukraine and Moldova Begin EU Accession Talks

In a historic move, the European Union (EU) has officially opened accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova.

This marks a significant step for both countries, which used to be part of the Soviet Union.

This development also shows strong support for Ukraine, especially as it deals with ongoing conflicts with Russia.

EU opens doors to Ukraine and Moldova

On June 26th 2024, the EU held the first Intergovernmental Conferences at ministerial level to commence accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova.

This follows the European Council’s decision in December 2023 to begin these talks and approval of the plan for negotiations in June 2024.

Hadja Lahbib, the Belgian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, led the EU delegation and called this moment “historic: for both countries.

She acknowledged that the process will be challenging but is confident they can achieve their goals.

Ukraine’s determination amidst conflict

Ukraine’s progress is especially notable because of the ongoing war with Russia.

Prime Minister Denys Shmygal spoke at the conference via videolink, calling it “the beginning of a new chapter” in Ukraine's relationship with the EU.

President Volodymyr Zelensky agreed, stating, “We will never be derailed from our path to a united Europe and to our common home of all European nations.”

The EU reiterated its strong disapproval of Russia’s actions and promised ongoing support for Ukraine “for as long as it takes and as intensely as needed.”

Moldova’s path to European integration

For Moldova, the opening of accession talks happened only two years after being granted candidate status, showing the country’s dedication to reform. Prime Minister Dorin Recean led the Moldovan team at the conference.

The EU praised Moldova’s progress and its recent signing of a Security and Defense Partnership, the first agreement like this with any partner country.

Challenges and opportunities ahead

While this marks a significant milestone, both countries have a long and demanding process ahead.

The negotiations will cover 35 topics, including taxes and environmental policies. 

Ukraine’s lead negotiator, Olga Stefanishyna, said that they hope to finish everything before 2030.

However, there are challenges, such as possible opposition from some EU members. 

Hungary, in particular, has doubts about Ukraine being ready for membership.

EU expansion to impact travel

The possible expansion of the EU to include Ukraine and Moldova could change travel and immigration rules.

Although the accession process is lengthy, if these countries join the EU, they will become part of the Schengen Area, which will affect travel regulations.

For now, the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) will still apply to non-EU travelers entering the Schengen Area.

As Ukraine and Moldova negotiate to join the EU, they will need to update their border control and visa policies to match EU standards. This could change how they handle visitors and immigrants.

Long-term travelers, like digital nomads, students, and investors, might find new opportunities in these countries as they adopt EU rules.

However, this will take time and may involve gradual changes.

A new chapter for Europe

The opening of talks with Ukraine and Moldova about joining the EU is a significant shift in how the EU plans to grow.

It shows a new commitment to including eastern European countries and could change the political landscape of the continent.

As these negotiations continue, many will watch to see how Ukraine and Moldova handle the complex process of joining the EU and how their potential membership might affect Europe’s future.

While there are challenges ahead, this is an important step towards a more united and larger European Union.