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

The major news concerning EU accession in November was the European Commission’s report on Ukraine within the enlargement package framework. Kyiv received a recommendation to commence the negotiation process on the accession to the EU. As anticipated, the attention of journalists was primarily focused on this topic.

Media about the accession of Ukraine to the European Union

Journalists analysed the recommendations by the European Commission, reflected on the timeframe for Ukraine’s potential EU accession, and distributed an assessment indicating that Ukraine had completed 90% of the reforms outlined in its candidate status. Only a few media outlets reported on the unique accelerated accession procedure applied to Ukraine, where technical issues of accession negotiations were prepared concurrently with the political ones. Overall, Ukrainian journalists covered the EC’s conclusion regarding Ukraine in a positive light, emphasising on the recommendation to initiate negotiations rather than highlighting the additional requirements set out for Ukraine.

Two of the EU requirements faced criticism from the expert community. A coalition of public organisations focused on cultural policy released a joint statement condemning “the revision of language legislation and the weakening of mechanisms for protecting the state language.” Concurrently, representatives from the presidential administration expressed their willingness to amend the education law to comply with European Union requirements.

Professional experts have also criticised the inclusion of the requirement to adopt a law on lobbying as an anti-oligarchic criterion. We will examine their criticism more closely in the upcoming analytical review. The draft law on lobbying, developed by NABU and under government consideration in November, faced even more substantial criticism from experts. Since November 29, the most influential public organisations in the industry have launched a public initiative to collect signatures under a joint statement, urging the government to reconsider the draft law, ensuring a transparent and inclusive consultation process.

Ukrainian journalists closely monitored insider information regarding the potential timeline for the start of negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU. They frequently referenced Dmytro Kuleba’s forecast, suggesting that accession negotiations might commence in early 2024, though not necessarily in the first month of the year. They also frequently quoted  Reuters insiders on the possibility to delay the official commencement of negotiations with Ukraine, potentially extending the timeframe from December to March.

Significantly less media attention was devoted to the European conference in Berlin on November 2, where the next enlargement of the EU was discussed, among other topics. The most widely cited statement in the Ukrainian media from the conference was Dmytro Kuleba’s assertion that Ukraine is “an added value, not a burden for the EU.” Kuleba highlighted this sentiment in an interview with Euractiv. Additionally, during the conference, he reiterated the thesis that it is unacceptable to hinder the reform of the EU by impeding the entry of new members.

In November, Ukrainian journalists extensively covered the details of the blockade of the Ukrainian-Polish border by Polish carriers. They reported on the economic losses incurred by Ukraine, highlighted tragic incidents resulting from the blockade, and expressed disappointment with the perceived unwillingness of the Polish authorities to address the issue. Some journalists went as far as to assert that the blockade “exposed the incompetence of the Polish government.” Drawing from Polish media insiders, they disseminated information about the European Commission’s disappointment with the actions of the Polish government and its readiness to “initiate a punitive procedure.”

Journalists also underscored the involvement of “anti-Ukrainian forces” in the protests, notably commenting on the support of the strike by the “Confederation” party, and labeled some of their demands as absurd. Ukrainian commentators expressed hope that the new Polish government would be able to resolve the problem.

Ukrainian media also wrote about the visit of the head of the European Council Charles Michel “on the eve of the European Council summit” and the opening of the European Parliament’s representative office in Kyiv.

Draft laws

During November, the Verkhovna Rada adopted only one draft law, which was related to the accession to the EU in the second reading.

Draft law No. 9024-d on minimum reserves of oil and petroleum products implements provisions that correspond to EU Directive 2009/119, as well as the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. The adoption of this draft law was not actively covered by Ukrainian journalists. Mostly, only some specialised media wrote about it, pointing out its connection to the accession to the EU.

Simultaneously, the Verkhovna Rada intensified its efforts on several other draft laws related to the implementation of the European Commission’s recommendations. In mid-November, draft laws were submitted for consideration, including the law on strengthening the independence of the Specialised Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (No. 10060), the law on enhancing the institutional capacity of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (No. 10203-1), and amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On prevention of corruption” (No. 10262), Also a draft law amending existing legislation to incorporate the expert assessment of the Council of Europe on the rights of national minorities (No. 10288) was submitted to the parliament for consideration.

However, the analysis of the media coverage of these laws by the Ukrainian media will be conducted after their adoption in the second reading, in subsequent monitoring issues.


In November, a significant amount of analysis written by experts and journalists was related to the European Commission’s report on enlargement.

In particular, the editor of “Yevropeiska Pravda” Serhii Sydorenko characterised the European Commission’s decision regarding Ukraine as a “a yellow light.” He emphasised that the main achievement of Ukraine is the start of negotiations without any preconditions after the approval of the decision at the EU summit. Namely, the technical process of preparation for admission, which will begin immediately after the December’s decision. However, discussing the new requirement to adopt a law on lobbying as part of the anti-oligarchic criterion, he stressed that the Ukrainian negotiating team should do everything possible to stop the practice of including requirements that were not in previous commitments to the EU. Texts with a similar assessment of the European Commission’s new requirement were also published by other experts, in particular representatives of the Ukrainian Center for European Policy.

In another article, Serhiy Sydorenko advises against adopting the currently registered draft law that proposes amendments to the laws concerning the rights of minorities. According to his assessment, while acknowledging the need for changes in the current legislation, some of the recommendations from the Venice Commission are considered to cross “red lines” for Ukraine. For instance, he highlights the Commission’s suggestion to refrain from duplicating advertisements and signs in Ukrainian in regions where ethnic minorities reside in proximity.

In their article, representatives of the “Policy Formation Center” provided a summary of the European Commission’s assessment of Ukraine’s compliance with the requirements within the fundamentals cluster. The authors believe that the formulations of the European Commission align with the recommendations of specialised Ukrainian public organisations in most positions. This underscores the importance of close cooperation between the state and civil society, involving the latter in both the design of reforms and the monitoring of their implementation. The authors also emphasised that most of the processes in this field, awaiting adoption in the EU, have already been initiated, and the relevant draft laws are currently under consideration in the parliament.

In November, the study “On the road to European integration,” conducted by the Ukrainian Center for European Policy, was published. The analysis of the key issues and needs of stakeholders regarding Ukraine’s accession to the EU. Researchers identified six key challenges among state authorities that could impede Ukraine’s European integration process. These challenges include a lack of expert knowledge in solving sectoral tasks, insufficient resources (both technical and human resources), a suboptimal level of coordination between different authorities, and a deficiency in effective communication about European integration.

An expert from the resource-analytical center “Society and Environment” highlighted the main ecological advantages that the EU stands to gain from Ukraine’s prospective accession. These include the potential to bolster the EU’s green transition, particularly through Ukraine’s substantial capacity for the development of organic production and renewable energy sources. Additionally, the expert emphasised the potential for strengthening EU biodiversity and an active public sector in the field of ecology, which could enhance the advocacy for green reforms within the EU.

Analysts from the Dnistriansky Center examined the regulation of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in Ukraine within the framework of European integration. According to their assessment, the Ministry of Digital Affairs’ policy of selectively implementing the EU Law on AI could result in confusion and challenges in meeting EU legislative requirements. This is due to the fact that current version of the EU law imposes stringent regulations and significant restrictions on certain AI technologies.

The Centre for Combating Disinformation, a research centre under the National Security Council, conducted a review of Hungary’s foreign policy in the context of hindering Ukraine’s European integration and other challenges posed by the Hungarian government to the European Union. The centre suggests overcoming Budapest’s veto by “blocking Hungary’s funding from the EU budget and creating additional financial problems for Orbán.” However, analysts emphasise that for this scenario to be effective, Ukraine must demonstrate exemplary implementation of all EU’s recommendations.