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Accession of Ukraine to the European Union: media monitoring for March 2024

In March, the topic of Ukraine’s accession to the EU did not frequently receive the attention of Ukrainian journalists. This can be attributed to the fact that the technical stage of negotiations is less captivating for the media. Most often, they wrote about the presentation of the negotiating framework for Ukraine’s accession to the EU by the European Commission.

Media coverage of Ukraine’s accession to the European Union

The key European integration-related news in March was the presentation of the draft negotiation framework for EU accession by the European Commission on 12 March. Ukrainian journalists primarily focused on explaining the details of the technical aspect of Ukraine’s accession to the EU. They also predicted when the negotiating framework would be adopted by the European Parliament. In particular, they quoted Politico inside informing that the approval of the negotiation framework could be delayed for several more months’. Journalists also frequently cited a statement by Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, who referred to the decision as ‘a testament to Ukraine’s achievements and transformation’.

The Ukrainian media wrote less frequently about the presentation of the government’s report on the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement on 20 March. They primarily covered this topic by noting the government’s assessment that 72% of the obligations under the agreement had been fulfilled. However, the media often presented this figure in headlines without mentioning that it was the government’s estimate.

The speech of Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the President of Ukraine, at the meeting of the European Council also attracted some media attention in March. In particular, journalists cited his statement that the start of negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU is “one of the key elements of the motivation of our people in the confrontation with Russia”, and the approval of the negotiation framework “will support our people”.

Journalists continued to follow insights related to Ukraine’s accession to the EU. In particular, the media frequently quoted Denys Shmyhal’s statement that he expects the start of EU accession negotiations in the first half of this year. In February, the President of Ukraine made a similar statement.

At the same time, the news about the arrangement to renew and extend the EU-Ukraine free trade agreement, which is quite important for Ukraine’s economy, was covered mainly by specialized media. Quoting the Twitter account of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, they referred to the text of the agreement as a compromise “between supporting Ukraine and protecting EU agricultural markets”.

The journalists also wrote about the approval of the Ukraine Facility programme by the Ukrainian government on 8 March and the extension of personal sanctions by the EU Council against individuals associated with military aggression against Ukraine.

Draft laws

In March 2024, Verkhovna Rada adopted just a few draft laws, with only one of them related to European integration being passed. This is the draft law on amendments to the Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offences regarding violations of legislation on lobbying (draft law No. 10373). This draft law introduces amendments to the Code of Administrative Offenses required by the European Integration Law on Lobbying, which was adopted in February 2024. The adoption of the law on lobbying was one of the four additional requirements set out in the European Commission’s enlargement report in November 2023.

Ukrainian journalists paid less attention to the adoption of the draft law, possibly because the topic of legislative innovations on lobbying was discussed in February when the foundational law was adopted. Explaining the new regulations, specialized NGOs noted that the draft law “establishes a legal framework for regulating the interaction between officials and stakeholders, as well as creates transparent control mechanisms and administrative liability for violations in the field of lobbying.”


Much of the analysis on European integration in March was devoted to the topic of agreeing on a “framework for negotiations” between the EU and Ukraine. 

In particular, the editor of the Yevropeiska Pravda media outlet, Serhiy Sydorenko, in his article referred to the format of accession talks proposed by the EU for Ukraine as the “Albanian way”. The author of the article argued that the text of the “negotiation framework” was essentially copied from the text offered to Albania and North Macedonia. They differed only in minor provisions on one of the agreement’s pages. The advantage of this approach for Ukraine is the certainty that negotiations will start soon. The downside is the lack of ambition in the old approach to negotiations. In particular, the expert noted that the idea of simultaneously opening all chapters “can be abandoned”. Sydorenko also referred to the deprivation of the presiding country’s right to inform other EU states about the candidate’s progress as a “good initiative”.

The experts at the Centre for Economic Recovery explained the key principles of the negotiation framework and delineated the principal “carrots and sticks” Brussels offers to Kyiv as part of the EU accession process. Specifically, the authors of the article mentioned accelerated integration into certain EU policies, a reduced timeframe between the opening of negotiation clusters and the closure of individual chapters as “carrots”. Conversely, the analysts identified the primary “stick” as the potential suspension of negotiations or reopening of already closed chapters in the case of stagnation in implementing the reforms.

The researchers at the European Policy Centre emphasized that, despite its name, the accession negotiations will primarily entail aligning Ukrainian legislation with the EU legal system. They also underscored the imperative to bolster the public administration system, as the bulk of the work in this process will be carried out by state institutions. Simultaneously, the authors highlighted that specific requirements will be placed on civil servants engaging in negotiations with the EU. These encompass proficiency in European law, adeptness in cultivating personal relationships with European counterparts, and mastery of “Brussels-style” negotiation communication. “Negotiators with the EU should be regarded as an ‘elite unit’ within the civil service,” the experts concluded.In her article, Yana Okhrimenko, senior economist at the Centre for Economic Strategy, contends that despite notable challenges in EU agricultural policy, which have sparked numerous farmers’ protests, the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy still “maintains adequate flexibility to prioritize economic efficiency.” Consequently, Okhrimenko argues that the Ukrainian agricultural model “will be capable of thriving within the EU.” Furthermore, according to the author, the current EU agricultural policy exhibits a greater orientation towards free-market principles compared to previous iterations. Therefore, Okhrimenko suggests that EU membership will entail less hardship for Ukrainian producers than it did for Poland in the past.