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Accession of Ukraine to the European Union: media monitoring for August 2023

In August, not a lot of informational events were associated with Ukraine’s European integration. Concurrently, the legislative activities of the Verkhovna Rada pertaining to draft laws concerning Ukraine’s alignment with the EU acquis were notably active.

Media about the accession of Ukraine to the European Union

At the beginning of the month, the Ukrainian media actively covered a new wave of conflict between Ukraine and Poland regarding the possibility of extending the ban on the sale of a number of Ukrainian agricultural products on the domestic market after 15 September, despite disagreement with such EU policy. Some media did not report accurately on the closure of the borders for Ukrainian agricultural products by Poland (it was not about banning transit). However, this is exactly the wording used by the Minister of Agriculture of Poland, Robert Telus, on his Twitter page, which could confuse journalists.

The conflict demonstrated the lack of transparent communication from the Ukrainian Ministry of Agrarian Policy. On 2 August (the day before the statement on the possibility of extending the restrictions), negotiations were held between the Ukrainian and Polish ministries of agriculture, during which the transit of Ukrainian agricultural products was discussed in particular. However, only the Polish side, as well as leading Polish media, reported on the very fact of the negotiations, no Ukrainian agency informed about them. Only a few of the Ukrainian media reported on this meeting, citing the statement of the Minister of Agriculture of Poland on 3 August.

Covering the Athens “Ukraine-Balkans” summit, the media often wrote about the military support of Ukraine from the Balkan countries and condemnation of Russian aggression. However, other journalists also emphasised that the event is an informal “EU enlargement summit”. In particular, the meeting of the President of Ukraine with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, was covered. The media noted that Volodymyr Zelenskyy raised the issue of the importance of lifting restrictions on the export of Ukrainian agricultural products after 15 September, as well as initiating negotiations on accession by the end of 2023.

Much less attention was paid to the visit of the delegation of deputies of the European Parliament and parliaments of EU countries “United4Ukraine” to Ukraine on Independence Day. Journalists mostly emphasised that the visit was designed to “express firm support for Ukraine.”

It is worth noting that only a few Ukrainian media outlets reported on the completion of the first stage of self-screening of Ukrainian legislation for alignment with the EU acquis. Despite the fact that the results of the first stage of self-screening were publicly available, they received limited coverage. On 21 August, Olga Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, announced the completion of this stage. Self-screening is a crucial step in Ukraine’s path toward closer ties with the EU, as it is a necessary prerequisite for the start of negotiations. It is noteworthy that this important, albeit less “high-profile,” event, from a media perspective, garnered little interest among Ukrainian journalists.

In contrast, the President’s statement regarding the proposal to equate corruption with treason generated significant media interest. Many Ukrainian media outlets, citing the views of experts, elaborated on why this initiative “poses a threat to Ukraine’s European integration.” Subsequently, journalists also highlighted the negative assessments of this proposal by EU representatives.

In August, there was a noticeable shift towards a more realistic assessment of the feasibility of implementing all seven EU recommendations by top officials. During the opening of the event titled “What does Ukraine’s path to the EU look like?” Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister-Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, stated that Ukraine will not be able to fulfill “all seven recommendations 100%”, as some of them are “fundamental changes” , which will be implemented for years.” At the same time, the official stressed that by that time the government should “have time to implement all agreed legislative and institutional steps.” Many Ukrainian media outlets reported this statement with headlines like “Ukraine Won’t Fulfill All EU Recommendations by October.”

Draft laws

During August 2023, 7 draft laws, marked by the Verkhovna Rada as “European integration” and related to accession to the EU, were adopted in the second reading.

Perhaps the most covered by journalists was draft law No. 5431 on the activities of the Antimonopoly Committee. The developers of the draft law emphasise that it was written in accordance with the requirements of the article of the association agreement with the EU and in accordance with a number of Regulations and Directives of the European Parliament and the Council. Also, the draft law can be considered as fulfilling the recommendation of the European Commission before granting candidate status, as it is related to de-oligarchization. Among the innovations of the draft law are the improvement of the conceptual apparatus of legislation on the protection of economic competition, the introduction of joint and subsidiary liability of violators, limitation of the term of consideration of cases, ensuring the financial independence of the Committee, etc. The media often emphasised the fact that the draft law “strengthens the powers of the AMCU”. At the same time, many of them also cited criticism of the draft law by Yaroslav Zhelezniak, member of parliament, who noted that the draft law does not provide “normal capacity” to the Antimonopoly Committee.

Representatives of the public sector criticised the draft law for not ensuring the Committee’s political independence, in particular, the excessive influence of the President’s institution on the Committee’s leadership, as well as for the insufficient level of access of individuals to case materials. At the same time, Matti Maasikas, the Head of the Delegation of the European Union in Ukraine, welcomed the adoption of the law and called it “a decisive step in Ukraine’s efforts to get closer to European rules and practices.”

In August, another law related to the implementation of the “anti-oligarchic” recommendation of the European Commission was adopted. This law No. 9419-1, pertains to state control over the activities of political parties. The majority of Ukrainian media highlighted the fact that the law reinstates mandatory financial reporting for political parties. The adoption of this draft law is crucial for aligning with the requirements of the Association Agreement and several international standards concerning the financing of political parties.

Draft Law No. 6576 and accompanying Draft Law No. 6447 regulate the functioning of virtual assets and digital services in Ukraine. They implemented the Directive of the European Parliament and the Council of May 20, 2019 No. 2019/770 into the national legislation of Ukraine. Mainly specialised media wrote about the news in a neutral light. They mainly emphasised such innovations as the recognition of virtual assets and the protection of property rights in the metaverse.

Adoption of draft law No. 5839, which pertains to state regulation of genetic engineering activities, is linked to the fulfillment of one of the obligations outlined in the Association Agreement. Additionally, it aligns with the implementation of provisions from various regulations of the European Parliament and the Council. The draft law introduces European mechanisms for the state registration of GMOs in Ukraine, enhances the GMO risk assessment system, and establishes requirements for labeling related products, among other provisions. In media headlines covering the adoption of this bill, the focus was often on the legalization of GMO products.

Following the adoption of the draft law in its first reading, farmers and the expert community provided significant feedback on its content, including concerns about the absence of a mechanism to ban GMOs. However, since that time, numerous amendments have been made to the text of the draft law, which, according to some experts, have addressed most of the concerns raised by the stakeholders.

Draft law No. 8223, which concerns protection against ionizing radiation, aims to align with the provisions of the Association Agreement with the EU and Euratom directives regarding safety standards for protection against threats from ionizing radiation exposure. This draft law delineates the responsibilities of central authorities in radiation protection, defines different exposure scenarios, and sets limit doses for planned radiation. The adoption of this draft law received neutral coverage in only a few Ukrainian media outlets, primarily those specializing in the subject matter.

Draft Law No. 9293 on the improvement of public administration and regulation in the provision of cloud services was adopted in August. Although not explicitly labeled as “European integration,” it incorporates provisions from the Association Agreement and Directives of the European Parliament and the Council (No. 2016/1148 and No. 2022/2555) into Ukrainian legislation. This document defines legal relationships in the field of providing cloud services and governs their utilization by state entities. According to the draft law’s authors, it is expected to enhance the quality of cloud services, bolster cybersecurity, and contribute to the improvement of public administration. Remarkably, the adoption of this law received minimal attention from Ukrainian media, with only a few specialised outlets highlighting the fact that the draft law designates “the State Service for Special Communications as the regulator of the cloud services market”


The editor of the specialised media “Evropeiska Pravda” Yury Panchenko characterised the recent escalation in the Ukrainian-Polish conflict concerning the export of Ukrainian agricultural products. He described Warsaw’s approach to Ukraine as “assertive.” According to the author, the discontent expressed by the Polish side regarding Kyiv’s intention to challenge Poland’s decision at the European Commission level demonstrates that Poland believes it has the right to protect its farmers while denying Ukraine a similar right.

The “Ukrainian Center for European Policy” authors deliberated on the Ukrainian government’s readiness to commence negotiations for EU membership by the end of the year. They emphasised that reforming the civil service ranks as “priority #2, following support for the Ukrainian army,” as the effectiveness of this reform significantly impacts Ukraine’s ability to engage in negotiations with the European Union. Additionally, the analysts encouraged business representatives to familiarise themselves with EU legislation and assess potential risks. This includes the development of a position concerning the postponement of the implementation of certain EU regulations.

In August, two articles were published in major online media addressing the challenges of integrating the Ukrainian agricultural sector into the EU. Oksana Avramenko, a representative of the Ukrainian Agrarian Business Club, argued that closer ties with the EU could serve as a catalyst for significant modernization of the agricultural sector and improvements across all aspects of production, while also opening up new sales markets. However, Ukrainian agribusiness may face significant challenges, including increased competition from the EU’s agricultural sector, the implementation of a new quality control system for food products, and adherence to new environmental standards.

UNIAN journalists anticipate “extremely challenging negotiations” on the path to membership for Ukrainian farmers. They suggest that in the future, governments of EU member states may push for restrictions on Ukrainian product access to European markets or even advocate for a ban on European bank investments in the Ukrainian agricultural sector. This is due to the competitive edge of Ukrainian food products in terms of cost, posing a potential threat to many European farmers. As per their projections, Ukrainian farmers will need to compete for the right to produce certain types of food at current production levels. Industries such as the flour milling complex, poultry farming, and the cultivation of fruit and vegetable products may be particularly vulnerable to such challenges.

Marianna Onufrik, an expert on social policy at the Euroscope project, recommends that Ukraine consider implementing key components from the pension policies of EU countries. These components include ensuring accessibility to education, aligning the labor market with the diverse needs of the population, incorporating long-term planning into the healthcare system, ensuring that housing infrastructure meets the requirements of retirees, strengthening the social contract (including fostering closer intergenerational interactions within families), and building trust in the state.

Forbes has published an article that examines the advantages of European integration for the Ukrainian IT business. These benefits include expanded opportunities for securing grants and subsidies, participation in European tenders, the removal of trade barriers, enhanced collaboration with European companies, and improved protection of intellectual property rights. However, the article also highlights potential challenges that may arise during the integration process, such as more complex bureaucratic administrative procedures and increased labor costs for IT specialists. It underscores that as part of the EU integration process, Ukraine must adopt and implement 523 EU regulations in the “Digitalization and Media” chapter, some of which are the latest and not yet implemented even within the EU itself.