The Start of Negotiations on Ukraine’s Accession to the EU: Why It’s Crucial Before July 1

by Roman Cheplyk
Tuesday, June 25, 2024
The Start of Negotiations on Ukraine’s Accession to the EU: Why It’s Crucial Before July 1

On June 25, a pivotal intergovernmental conference between Ukraine and the European Union is set to take place in Luxembourg, marking the official commencement of negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU

This historic event will also see Moldova beginning its membership negotiations.

Framework for Negotiations Approved

A few days prior to this conference, the European Union approved the negotiating framework for Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyi highlighted the significance of this framework in his address, noting that it outlines the format and sequence of accession talks.

“Many fought for this at different levels,” Zelenskyi stated, emphasizing that “these are truly historical developments. Ukraine is and will always be part of a united Europe.” Both Zelenskyi and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba assured that the negotiations on Ukraine’s EU membership would indeed commence on June 25.

Fulfillment of Preconditions

At the end of April, President Zelenskyi declared that Ukraine had met all the prerequisites for starting accession negotiations. This was confirmed by the European Commission in early June and subsequently by a meeting of EU ambassadors. Despite this progress, Hungary’s objections initially stalled the adoption of a recommendation to the European Commission to begin official negotiations. The issue was eventually resolved, underscoring the complexities that lie ahead in the negotiation process.

The Hungary Factor in the EU

The EU leaders had already given the green light for accession negotiations back in December 2023 at a summit in Brussels. At that time, Hungary’s objections were mitigated by releasing 10 billion euros that had been frozen due to rule-of-law issues in Hungary. Additionally, during the final vote, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was diplomatically asked to leave the room, allowing the consensus to be reached without his direct involvement.

In June, Hungary's objections were related to the perceived inadequacies in Ukraine’s protection of the rights of the Hungarian minority. This issue was resolved through compromise wording in the framework agreement and assurances that the European Commission would monitor Ukraine's reforms regarding minority rights.

Urgency Before July 1

There is a sense of urgency to start the negotiation process before July 1, when the presidency of the EU Council will pass from Belgium to Hungary. Brussels officials, aware of Hungary’s stance on Ukraine’s European integration, have emphasized the need to begin negotiations by early July.

Politico reported in May that Brussels is keen to start negotiations by July, aligning with Ukraine’s strategic interests. Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, head of the Verkhovna Rada's committee on Ukraine’s EU integration, noted that Hungary has already indicated that promoting Ukraine’s European integration will not be a priority during its presidency.

Balint Odor, Hungary’s representative to the EU, stated that Hungary will monitor Ukraine’s progress and include necessary aspects in the EU agenda as needed. However, Hungary’s priorities during its presidency will focus on the competitiveness of the EU, economic relations with third countries, easing administrative burdens for businesses, defense policy, and cooperation in arms procurement, with a specific emphasis on the Western Balkans.


The start of negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU is a historic milestone, fraught with political complexities. The urgency to begin these talks before Hungary assumes the EU Council presidency is clear, given Hungary’s stated priorities and previous objections. Successfully navigating these negotiations will require diplomatic finesse and a unified commitment from all involved parties to ensure Ukraine’s path to EU membership progresses smoothly.

You will be interested