Ukraine has received candidate status for accession to the EU
The European Business Association welcomes the historic decision of the European Council to grant Ukraine candidate status for accession to the European Union, following the summit on June 23-24.
As of today, Ukraine is reaching the finish line of its eurointegration marathon. Now the accession to the EU will depend on the speed and quality of reforms implementation that will bring Ukraine closer to the European standards. For the EU, This also marks a change of the EU policy towards Ukraine – from the neighborhood to enlargement.
Obtaining the EU candidate status is an important political signal for Ukraine and a serious stimulus for reforms. Ukraine has long demonstrated a strong commitment to democratic values, and today it is paying a very high price for the prospect of a European future. We are grateful to our European colleagues for this important decision and to the entire EU community for their unprecedented support for Ukraine in this extremely difficult period of its recent history.
Candidate status gives Ukraine many advantages. Within the pre-accession process, Ukraine will be eligible for a variety of EU funding instruments, including a single instrument for pre-accession assistance (ІРА) and individual economic assistance projects, long-term loans, and grants, to accelerate reforms and prepare for membership. We will be able to join various EU programs and initiatives and receive technical and advisory support.
According to President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, Ukraine has already adapted about 70% of the acquis communautaire – the legal acquis of the EU, which includes acts of legislation, standards, norms, and rules of the EU. Besides, Ukraine has demonstrated a high level of democracy, public administration, as well as an active and conscious civil society. Ms. von der Leyen noted the successful reform of decentralization, the high level of education and digitalization, the democratic elections, and the reform in the transport and energy sectors.
It will be recalled that earlier the decision to grant Ukraine candidate status was also supported by the European Parliament and the European Commission. However, the latter recommends seven additional steps that Ukraine must comply with in order to maintain its new status and then move on to the next stage of the procedure:
- Reform of the Constitutional Court
- Continuation of judicial reform
- Anti-corruption reform
- Anti-money laundering
- Implementation of the anti-oligarchic law
- Harmonization of Ukraine’s legislation media with the EU norms
- Change in legislation on national minorities
According to Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine is able to implement the abovementioned recommendations of the European Commission by the end of the year.
As of the beginning of 2022, Ukraine has achieved stable macroeconomic indicators and successes on the way to building a full-fledged market economy. At the same time, in recent years, the Ukrainian side has done significant work to bring national legislation into line with EU legislation and European standards.
We are proud that the team of the European Business Association has been actively involved in these processes for the last eight years and provided expert support from business to government agencies so that Ukrainian legislation is aligned to EU law. Particularly, our experts were actively involved in the harmonization of technical regulation and reduction of non-tariff barriers to trade, implementation of the European standardization system, approximation of mutual recognition of conformity assessment procedures, facilitation of information exchange, and adaptation of sectoral legislation in many areas, such as customs legislation, intellectual property issues, consumer protection, sanitary and phytosanitary regulation, etc.
Surely, there is still a lot of “homework” for Ukraine to do in the context of integration with the EU. So, in addition to the reforms announced by the European Commission, we will continue to work on further harmonization of standards, phytosanitary norms, creation of transparent registers, continuation of systemic reforms of customs and rule of law. Business and society also have a high demand for further anti-corruption and judicial reform, which are among the EU’s most important requirements, although some progress has been made in building anti-corruption infrastructure in Ukraine.
Candidate status for EU membership is an extremely important signal for business and the whole Ukrainian society. 8 years ago, Ukraine made its European choice and loudly announced it to Europe and the world. Since that day, we as a country have been purposefully moving in this direction. Today′s decision is the best motivation for business, a benchmark for Ukraine′s recovery after the victory, and a sign of support from a powerful and strong Europe.
Ukraine has a unique chance to carry out a rapid and comprehensive transformation of all spheres and to modernize the country with the support of international partners. Further European integration may be limited at first as the realities of martial law complicate the implementation of systemic reforms. However, there are definitely things that can and should be done now.
After the end of the war, the room for investment in Ukraine will be enormous, and the security of investment will be guaranteed for Europe’s future. The main thing is political will and a proactive approach. We see a serious demand from society and the business community for the same changes that will bring us closer to full EU membership, so we hope for quick and effective eurointegration reforms.