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

In October, the media’s interest in topics related to Ukraine’s accession to the European Union continued to decline. This trend is associated with the deceleration of EU-related reforms as Ukraine awaited the assessment of its implementation of the European Commission’s seven recommendations. News and insights on the European Commission’s upcoming assessment and further EU accession negotiations dominated the headlines in October. Additionally, journalists were actively engaged in discussions about an accession-related draft law No. 9269-d, which reinstates lifetime status for politically significant persons (PEPs).

Media about the accession of Ukraine to the European Union

On October 2, an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers occurred, which Ukrainian journalists extensively covered. They frequently underscored its historic significance as the “first-ever meeting of all 27 member states outside the EU,” considering it a notable message of support for Ukraine. Journalists highlighted that discussions during the meeting encompassed the provision of financial and military aid to Ukraine, the topic of grain corridors, prospects for the commencement of negotiations on Ukraine’s EU membership, and the reinforcement of sanctions against the russian federation.

Throughout October, Ukrainian officials consistently communicated the message of Ukraine’s eagerness and readiness to initiate negotiations for European Union membership by the end of 2023. Notably, both President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, articulated this stance in statements aimed at both the domestic audience and international partners. Simultaneously, officials with lower public profiles, such as Deputy Head of the Office of the President Ihor Zhovkva, anticipated the start of negotiations in the first half of 2024. Ukrainian media actively quoted these statements and closely monitored insider information related to this topic. Notably, an insider of the Euronews discussing the existence of a “road map” for Ukraine’s accession and the insider of Reuters suggesting the potential inclusion of additional conditions in the EU’s positive assessment. In response to this insider information, Kyiv earlier signalled its expectation for the evaluation of the implementation of the seven EC recommendations without additional requirements.

Dmytro Kuleba’s passionate statement rejecting the notion of “second-class” membership garnered substantial media coverage. This is how he characterized the hypothetical possibility of partial membership that Ukraine can expect in the event of reforming the EU and changing the policy regarding its expansion.

Ukrainian journalists also covered the proposal put forth by the Head of the European Parliament, Roberta Metzola. Her suggestion involved the prospect of Ukraine and Moldova joining the EU as observers before formally becoming Union members.

Furthermore, Ukrainian journalists reported on the European Parliament’s confirmation of the decision to establish a 50 billion euro aid fund for Ukraine, along with the allocation of the next tranche of macro-financial assistance from the EU.

Draft laws

In October, only one “European integration” draft law, namely No. 9269-d, was adopted. This law primarily addresses the combatting of money laundering. Journalists, politicians, and specialized experts consistently underscored that this draft law is the last among those necessary to fulfil all seven recommendations of the European Commission for the initiation of accession negotiations. The media actively covered the adoption of this draft law, sparking discussions within Ukrainian society.

Discussions surrounding the draft law primarily revolved around the reinstatement of the lifetime status of a politically significant person (PEP). Although this provision has been part of Ukrainian legislation since 2020, it was revoked a year ago. The restoration of this norm is deemed crucial for aligning Ukrainian legislation with FATF standards, a requirement imposed by both the EU and the IMF, prompting its implementation by Ukraine.

Journalists placed emphasis on the reinstatement of lifelong financial monitoring for top officials, highlighting the necessity of adopting the law as a crucial step toward initiating accession negotiations. These key points were prominently featured in the media coverage of the draft law’s adoption.

Certain members of the Ukrainian political establishment, including officials and politicians, expressed criticism of the provisions of the draft law. In particular, concerns were raised about the lifetime restrictions imposed on socially significant persons and their relatives. Critics argued that these restrictions could potentially make it more challenging to attract specialists from other fields to top official positions.

Certain members of the Ukrainian political establishment, including officials and politicians, have criticized the provisions of the draft law. Specifically, concerns have been raised that the lifetime restrictions imposed on socially significant persons and their relatives could make it more challenging to attract specialists from other fields to top official positions.

In response to such criticism, specialized NGOs published articles debunking the main myths about the draft law and the status of PEPs. Journalists also provided detailed explanations of the potential restrictions that could be imposed on subjects of financial monitoring. For instance, some of these articles were published under the heading “Should officials panic?” reflecting the mood that fuelled discussions about the draft law.


One of the key topics analysed by Ukrainian experts in October was the discussions among EU officials regarding the reform of the Union’s enlargement policy and its potential consequences for Ukraine. Specifically, Snizhana Dyachenko, an analyst at the Ukrainian Center for European Policy, noted the significance for Ukraine of ensuring that reforms take place not before but in parallel with the accession process. She emphasized that such an approach is crucial to mitigate the risk that a lack of consensus on reforms could potentially block the accession of candidate countries for decades.

The media outlet “Yevropeyska Pravda” published several articles on this topic during the development of the debate in October. In the latest article, the editor of the media, Serhiy Sydorenko, concluded that “representatives of key European capitals began to hear Kyiv’s arguments that Ukraine should become a member of the EU without changing the European treaties.” The author also highlighted that preserving accelerated European integration for Ukraine, even with a favourable resolution to the issue of EU reform, is only possible if our country implements all European integration reforms.

Experts from the “Ukrainian Center for European Policy” emphasised the importance of crafting and disseminating a distinctive historical narrative regarding Ukraine’s journey towards joining the EU. They highlighted the necessity for a narrative that will accompany Ukraine’s accession to the EU. The experts also urged Ukrainian opinion leaders to actively participate in this discussion.

Tetyana Oleksiiuk, an UNDP Ukraine expert on access to information, conducted a review of the changes in the field of access to public information access following the adoption of the new media law. She emphasized the need for systemic changes to be made to the Law of Ukraine “On Access to Public Information,” as the media law only introduced two amendments to it. Specifically, she highlighted the necessity of modifications to align the law with the Council of Europe Convention on access to official documents. Oleksiiuk suggested that the expert community should reinitiate efforts to promote a comprehensive new draft law to address these changes.

In October, a study on the effectiveness of cultural policy in the context of Ukraine’s European integration was presented. The study was conducted by the public organization NGO “ANTS” at the request of the EU. The experts identified nine key recommendations for Ukrainian officials, encompassing the need for developing indicators to illustrate the outcomes of cultural policy, fostering active engagement of stakeholders in the policy formation process (especially representatives from specialized NGOs, communities, and local organizations), and advocating for a cross-sectoral approach in shaping the implementation plan for reforms.

Marianna Onufrik, an expert from the Euroscope project (NGO “ANTS”) conducted an analysis of the fulfilment of EU requirements concerning the deinstitutionalization of services for people with disabilities. According to her assessment, Ukraine should prioritize transitioning from caring for individuals with disabilities in institutions, based on the medical model of disability, to providing services at the community level. This entails ensuring that individuals, including those with the most complex developmental disabilities, have the opportunity to reside at home or in assisted living facilities. Additionally, Onufrik highlighted the requirement to address significant gaps in data related to persons with disabilities.