Aspen Institute Kyiv and Aspen Institute Central Europe held an event on the Ukrainian EU candidate status

Aspen Institute Kyiv and Aspen Institute Central Europe held a conversation “Ukraine-EU: closer look”. Ukrainian and Central European leaders exchanged views on the crucial conditions for successful EU membership accession.

Ivan Hodac, Founder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Aspen Institute Central Europe, moderated the event. Pavel Rehak, President at Aspen Institute Central Europe, and Yuliya Tychkivska, Executive Director at Aspen Institute Kyiv, made introductory remarks at the beginning of the event.

On June 23, the European perspective of Ukraine was finally recognized by the EU.

With the candidate status our country was officially included in the European Integration project. It is crucial for Ukraine: becoming an EU member is our strategic goal, which is written in the Constitution.

Dita Charanzová, Vice-president of the European Parliament, and Ivan Štefanec, Member of the European Parliament, represented European Parliament. Maria Mezentseva, Deputy Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Ukraine’s Integration into the European Union, Chairperson of the Ukrainian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and Maryna Mykhailenko, Director of the Department for the European Union and NATO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine represented Ukraine.

Speakers underlined that EU integration of Ukraine is also crucial for future peace and global security. Russia would never interrupt the EU country, while the EU political dissection counted as a sign to spread its own political will and was one of the key factors in Russian aggression.

What are the key factors of Ukraine’s accession to the European Union?

Political will. There must be a political will and a political push. It is crucial to have it both: from Ukrainian and EU politics. Due to political willingness, Ukraine managed to lay its legislation with the EU standards. 70% of it is already fully competitive with the European standards now. So, Ukraine is not starting from scratch, and there is a high possibility to repeat the success of the Slovakian 3-year Assessment. The role of the European parliament is now to help Ukraine keep moving at the same speed.

Civil society. Besides the political will, it is important to have support from civil society and business. The people of Ukraine determine its presence and the future. So, there is no way to turn from the EU Integration path. Also, there is a crucial role for NGO organizations like Aspen Institute because it is absolutely necessary for us to talk, exchange, and interact. That is the way we manage to align ourselves and make sure that for a political decision there is also backing, which comes from society and the businesses.

Also, there are a few issues, which speakers highlighted as sensitive ones:

  • The current progress in the reforming. Among the most weak points are the judicial system, anti-corruption system, and agriculture sector. 
  • The time of membership accession. There are cases of long-term membership accession. For Croatia it took 10 years, the Balkans are still on the waiting list, and Turkey is for 20 years still in the negotiation process. But on the other side, we see an example of Slovakia, which accomplished EU membership criteria in 3 years. It depends both on the Ukrainian side and European institutions.
  • Decision-making power of Ukraine. Some countries are afraid that it will change the political layout.

At the same time, speakers agreed that Ukraine and Ukrainians had proved that they want and deserve the right to be in the EU. Since 2014, Ukraine has implemented several structural reforms and transformed into a country with a free market economy, pluralistic democracy, free elections, respect for human rights, etc.