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Accession of Ukraine to the European Union: March 2023 media monitoring

While February was abundant with the events related to Ukraine`s EU accession, March turned out to be rather lacking media attention to the topic of Ukraine’s advancement on the way to the EU membership. For instance, the popularity rating of the accession of Ukraine to the European Union both in the media and in social networks decreased by 47% (the statistics presented in the article is collected using Youscan media analysis tool).

During March, media often quoted positive statements by Ukrainian politicians about the implementation of European Union`s recommendations and avoided critical remarks concerning the government’s optimistic forecasts.

Media about Accession of Ukraine to the European Union

The meeting of Zelenskyi and Stefanchuk with Roberta Metzola, the President of the European Parliament, was the most popular media event covered in March. Ukrainian media outlets often cited Metsola’s statements regarding the possibility of starting negotiations on Ukraine’s membership in the European Union as early as in 2023. Some media outlets in their headlines manipulatively noted that “it is known about the timing of the start of negotiations regarding Ukraine’s accession to the EU.” Statements by top EU officials regarding work on gaps in sanctions against the Russian Federation and the importance of bringing Putin to justice for war crimes were less frequently quoted.

Furthermore, media outlets often reported on the extension of the agreement on the liberalization of road freight transport on March 16 (the so-called extension of the “transport visa-free regime”). They also actively covered the summit of the European Council held in Brussels on March 23-24. Mainly, the media informed about the content of the “Declaration of Support for Ukraine” (as phrased by the Ukrainian media outlets), which was adopted as a result of the meeting, and also cited the address of Volodymyr Zelenskyi to the European Council on the key dangers that postpone the end of the war.

On March 6, the new director of NABU Semen Krivonos was appointed. This resulted in Denys Shmygal`s statement suggesting that Ukraine has now fulfilled all seven recommendations by the European Commission. Some Ukrainian media outlets headlined the Prime Minister’s statement, which was rather a subjective assessment of the state of implementation of the EU recommendations, not indicating it as a quote. This created a false impression among readers about Ukraine’s readiness to join the EU.

Later, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanyshina explained more precisely the status of implementation of the EU Commission’s recommendations. She noted that Ukraine will fulfill most of the candidate criteria in May, before the completion of the first assessment of the European Commission. She also reported that the government will negotiate with the European Commission on the conditions for meeting the requirements for the selection of judges and amendments to the “anti-oligarchy law”. Commenting on this statement, media outlet “Yevropeiska Pravda” noted in the headline of the news that the government plans to fulfill “all but one” of the EU candidacy criteria. However, the majority of Ukrainian media outlets were not interested in a more balanced assessment of the real state of implementation of the EU’s recommendations.

In a similar way, the Ukrainian media outlets reacted to the publication of the Ukrainian government’s report on the implementation of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement. According to it, Ukraine has fulfilled 72% of its obligations. Many media outlets presented this news as a proven fact, without clarifying the source of information in the headline (for example, “government report”), which created a false impression among readers. Both journalists and experts did not make many attempts to question the reported advancement in the Agreement’s implementation or to investigate on the assessment methodology.  The coverage of the topic by “Ukrainian Radio” was one of the few exceptions. The media outlet invited Lyubov Akulenko, executive director of the NGO “Ukrainian Center for European Policy”, to the broadcast. She shared an alternative assessment of the implementation status, which was less optimistic at 54.8%.

In March, four laws were adopted by Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament), which were indicated as required for EU acquis approximation or recognized by experts as important on Ukraine’s path to the EU: on strengthening the protection of intellectual property rights (No. 6464), on preventing terrorism (No. 8146), on aviation security control (No. 6405), and on automatic exchange of information on financial accounts (No. 8131).

Most attention from the media was paid to the laws on intellectual property rights and on the exchange of information on financial accounts. Still, there was no active public discussion on and media interest to any of those draft laws.

Some media criticized the bill on financial accounts: they cited lawyers who accused the law of “killing the concept of banking secrecy” and claimed that Ukrainian refugees may have their card accounts blocked after changing their tax resident status according to the new law. However, other media called the innovation “an absolutely necessary step for the approximation of Ukraine to the EU acquis and its integration with the European economic infrastructure.”

The head of the analytical department of the NGO “ANTS” Illya Neskhodovsky says the introduction of international CRS and EOIR standards was the actual goal of draft law No. 8131 and clarifies that it complies with the provisions of Section V “Economic and industry cooperation” and Section VI “Financial cooperation and anti-fraud provisions” of the Agreement on the Ukraine-EU Association.

Several media outlets published the news about draft law No. 8146 under the manipulative title “From now on everyone is in plain view of the SBU.” This title reflected innovation regarding the SBU’s access to information about passengers and flight personnel. Such coverage of information forms negative public attitude towards the innovation, which is required from Ukraine within the framework of the implementation of the European convention on the prevention of terrorism.


There was no central topic that most stakeholders would cover among the analytical papers that media outlets and think tanks worked on in March.

Media outlet “Yevropeiska Pravda”  published an article about the criteria for the implementation of the “anti-oligarch” law within the framework of compliance with the recommendations of the European Commission. The author of the article emphasized that the future decision of the Venice Commission (VC) would require Ukraine to cancel or fundamentally revise the “anti-oligarch” law. At the same time, the coordinator of the EUROSCOPE analytical group of the NGO “ANTS” Roman Makukhin noted that a common decision on the imperfection of the laws of Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova was prepared even before March 14, and the systematic nature of the reform aimed at overcoming the influence of the post-Soviet “secretariat of oligarchs” remains an important factor of stabilization and development of the EU candidate states.

In addition, “Yevropeiska Pravda” reviewed the report on Ukraine by the “Group of States against Corruption” (GRECO), a key European anti-corruption structure, and concluded that the adoption of a draft law on lobbying, the completion of formation of an effective High Qualification Commission of Judges and the restoration e-declaration could be possible problems during the next regular reports.

The “RBK-Ukraine” outlet published an article on the importance of restoring e-declarations for the Ukrainian state officials as a precondition of successful accession of Ukraine to the EU and analyzed the readiness of the authorities to implement this norm.

ANTS NGO analyst Marianna Onufryk reviewed the problem of deinstitutionalization of special needs boarding schools (one of the requirements of the EU in the social sphere) and questioned Ukraine’s readiness to “get rid of orphanages as a phenomenon” in the nearest future. The expert emphasized the importance of developing services for children and families at the community level as an alternative to the system of institutional care facilities.

Nataliya Galetska, a specialist in interregional cooperation of the Lviv Regional Council, analyzed the EU requirements regarding regional policy in a column for “Yevropeiska Pravda”. She noted that in order to fulfill these requirements, Ukraine should improve the coordination between state authorities and institutions, enhance coherence of program documents at different levels, as well as increase efficiency of the use of European funds along with improving of the financial monitoring systems.

The environmental protection NGO “Ekodiya” analyzed the effect on Ukraine of the new mechanisms for regulating carbon emissions in the EU. The author determined what reforms in this sphere Ukraine should implement in order to preserve the volume of imports to the European countries. In particular, the organization noted the need to develop a legislative framework for the system of carbon emissions trading and to implement a system of circulation of quotas for such emissions. The NGO “Center for Democracy and the Rule of Law” analyzed the process of development of unified rules for the regulation of political advertising by EU countries, which take into account new challenges regarding information security. The organization states that the new regulation does not apply to candidate countries. At the same time, Ukraine is interested to approach EU standards in the field of regulation of the political process voluntarily.