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Jun 21, 2024, 12:19pm EDT
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Semafor Signals

European Union to start accession talks with Ukraine

Insights from Financial Times, Bruegel, and Euronews

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Michael Buholzer/Pool via Reuters
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The News

European Union countries formally approved the beginning of accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova, marking the start of what will likely be a yearslong process toward joining the bloc.

Negotiations are set to kick off on Tuesday in Luxembourg at two conferences the EU will hold with Kyiv and Chișinău.

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Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy celebrated the decision, writing on X that “Millions of Ukrainians, and indeed generations of our people, are realizing their European dream.” Moldova’s President Maia Sandu said EU membership is “our path to peace, prosperity, and a better life.”

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Challenges remain to integrating a country of Ukraine’s size

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Sources:  
Bruegel, Financial Times

Extending certain bloc-wide programs such as the EU’s cohesion policy and the Common Agricultural Policy to Ukraine is “currently unthinkable,” Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told Semafor, calling instead for “gradual integration.” The policies together amount to more than 60% of the EU’s budget, and because Ukraine has a low GDP per capita compared to EU member states and farmlands that exceed the size of Poland, accession would have drastic economic impacts for existing members, an analysis by Bruegel, a Brussels-based think tank, argued. Ukraine has already clashed with its close ally Poland over agricultural policy, after cheap Ukrainian grain imports angered Polish farmers. “Ukraine has not even entered the EU yet, and already it has damaged the single market,” an EU diplomat told the Financial Times.

Hungarian EU presidency threatens to bring accession to a standstill

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Sources:  
Euronews, Financial Times

The enlargement process could be halted for six months as Hungary takes over the European Council’s rotating presidency in July, giving Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government the power to set the agenda. The Hungarian Minister for European Affairs said Tuesday that Budapest will aim to push accession forwards for the Western Balkans, but that opening the specific chapters of membership negotiations with Ukraine “won’t be raised at all,” Euronews reported. Hungary long vetoed Ukrainian accession talks, but Orbán relented in December, noting that he would have many more opportunities to block the process.

Ukrainian membership could test EU defense clause

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Source:  
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

EU membership also comes with Article 42.7 of the EU treaty, an often forgotten mutual defense clause similar to NATO’s article five. So far, the EU security guarantee has played little role in organizing European defense, but it could come to the fore if Ukraine is let into the EU before it gains NATO membership, two experts at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace argued. “The union cannot defend its external borders without NATO. That dilemma has long been a theoretical one, but Ukraine’s march toward membership could make it real.”

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