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

There was not much news coverage related to Ukraine’s accession to the European Union in September. However, among the few topics that were covered, the process of adopting the draft law on electronic declarations for Ukrainian officials attracted the most attention from journalists. The media also reported on news and insider information regarding Ukraine’s progress in implementing the seven recommendations from the European Commission, which are expected to be assessed in October. Ukrainian officials sent somewhat premature signals about having fulfilled all the necessary conditions to start negotiations on joining the EU.

Media about the accession of Ukraine to the European Union

On 8-9 September, the annual Yalta European Strategy international forum was held in Kyiv. Media coverage primarily focused on security-related discussions at the event. Specifically, politicians were quoted discussing preparedness for a long-term confrontation with Russia and the potential for Ukraine to join NATO. One of the few widely reported statements from the forum regarding Ukraine’s accession to the European Union came from the President of Ukraine, who emphasised the priority of implementing European integration reforms over organising elections during wartime.

Ukrainian journalists also extensively covered the visit of Annalena Baerbock, German Minister of Foreign Affairs, which took place on 11-12 September. In particular, they reported that a senior EU official “announced the commencement of negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU.” Baerbock’s statement about the future EU territory stretching from Lisbon to Luhansk was frequently quoted in the Ukrainian media.

Ukrainian journalists were particularly interested in the statement made by Roberta Metsola, the President of the European Parliament, in an interview with The Guardian regarding the possibility of offering Ukraine some benefits of EU membership even before its formal accession. In particular, journalists quoted a passage in which the senior EU official listed the potential advantages that were discussed: joint mobile roaming, access to universities, the opportunity of enering the EU single market, and connecting to the European power grid.

Among the statements made by Ukrainian officials, Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishyna’s remarks in an interview to the Voice of America regarding Ukraine’s readiness for the EU membership within the next two years received significant media coverage. In contrast, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal’s message about the necessity of aligning nearly 5,000 documents on the path to the EU membership following the results of a self-screening was covered by only a few media outlets.

Ukrainian media also commented on the anticipated assessment of Ukraine’s implementation of the seven recommendations by the European Commission. Bloomberg’s insider information widely circulated, indicating that the European Commission was set to recommend initiating a process of many years of negotiations on Ukraine’s accesssion to the European Union in October. Many Ukrainian media outlets also cited the positive evaluation of Ukraine’s progress in its membership application provided by the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in an interview with the same media. Specifically, the top official expressed confidence that “Ukraine would succeed in its application for the EU membership.”

Ukrainian journalists also reported, albeit less frequently, on the opportunity for Ukraine to independently participate in the EU infrastructure projects tenders. Additionally, they covered the approval by the Cabinet of Ministers of a program for national minorities, a move that the government linked to the fulfillment of the seven recommendations by the European Commission. David Arakhamia, the head of the Sluha narodu faction, stated that the Verkhovna Rada had accomplished “99.9% of what was required to initiate negotiations on Ukraine’s accession to the EU.” It is important to note, however, that the draft law on politically significant persons (PEPs) that had not been adopted as of September in the second reading remains very important to the Ukraine’s partners but alledgedly accounts for less than 0.1% of the total scope of the European Commission’s recommendations implementation.

Draft laws

In September, the Verkhovna Rada passed two draft laws marked as “European integration”. Draft law No. 9534 on the disclosure of officials’ asset declarations, was a requirement by international partners, notably the International Monetary Fund. Draft law No. 9610 is addressing the implementation of the rights of national minorities and is connected to fulfilling one of the seven recommendations by the European Commission.

The adoption of an European integration draft law No. 9534, which aimed to restore electronic declaration at the beginning of August, faced criticism both within the Ukrainian expert community and among Ukraine’s international partners. The decision to postpone the opening of asset declarations for a year was the primary point of contention. Many Ukrainian media outlets highlighted the delay and the unsuccessful vote on the amendment for the immediate disclosure of declarations. Subsequently, the media frequently reported that a group of members of the European Parliament called on the president to veto the law. Additionally, there were occasional reports about similar appeals coming from the National Agency for Corruption Prevention (NACP), specialized NGOs, and citisens who signed a corresponding petition on the President’s website. However, some other shortcomings of the draft law were overshadowed. A specialised experts drew attention to a new rule on hiding the full names of other persons in the declaration, limiting the mandate of the NACP to investigate declarations fully. After the president vetoed the draft law and made amendments to it on the immediate opening of declarations, the Ukrainian media wrote about the adoption of the “corrected” draft law” and the draft law “taking into account the veto of the president.”

The draft law “On National Minorities (Communities) of Ukraine” provides, among other things, free distribution of school textbooks for the representatives of national minorities, ensuring the possibility of using the languages of national minorities in advertising and public events, establishing a new definition of the term “national minorities (communities)”, etc. Ukrainian media called the adoption of the law “one of the requirements for the EU accession.” We will remind you that the previous version of the draft law on national minorities was criticised by the Venice Commission. The decision of the commission, in turn, was criticised by the majority of representatives of the Ukrainian expert environment for insufficient understanding of the Ukrainian context.


In August, analysts studying the processes of Ukraine’s accession to the EU published an important Candidate Check report which was the fifth in the series of independent monitoring reports on Ukraine’s implementation of the seven recommendations by the European Commission. The study was conducted by several NGOs. According to the experts, Ukraine has shown significant progress in the implementation of pro-European reforms. Specifically, the overall expert rating of the implementation of recommendations increased from 6.8 to 8.1 points out of 10.

The results of the Candidate Check 5 were further analysed in detail by Serhiy Sydorenko, the editor of the Evropeiska Pravda. He highlighted that Ukraine had made substantial progress in fulfilling the seven steps of the EU criteria. However, as of early September, there was a sense of stagnation in the implementation of the recommendations provided by the European Commission. One significant obstacle still remaining on the path towards initiating the negotiations on the accession to the EU was the adoption of legislation concerning politically exposed persons (PEPs). The Verkhovna Rada did not secure enough votes to pass a relevant law, posing a challenge to the Ukraine’s EU integration efforts.

The editor of Evropeiska Pravda, Yury Panchenko, also analysed the “grain crisis” between Ukraine and Poland and identified the mistakes made by the Ukrainian authorities. The author endorsed the idea of the Ukrainian politicians who were seeking a resolution through the WTO but criticised the officials for their lack of effective communication with both Ukrainian and Polish society.

Mykhailo Koltsov, an expert with the Advocate of the Future NGO explored different scenarios for reforming local courts in European countries, considering the most suitable model for Ukraine. The author emphasised the significance of engaging stakeholders for the successful reform of the judicial system. According to Koltsov, mere political will from the top is insufficient. Active engagement and cooperation with the stakeholders are crucial for the effective operation of the system.

In the article at Vox Ukraine, Andriy Demydenko reviewed the primary reasons behind the European Commission’s low rating of compliance with the European environmental legislation. He highlighted critical issues related to the implementation of the European environmental assessment and environmental responsibility. Despite the considerable number of acts and laws adopted, Demydenko noted that the state’s current approach lacks responsibility for restoring the environment; instead, it only imposes fines for harming it. The expert concluded that this approach poses a threat to attracting further investments into the Ukrainian economy.

The Dixi Group analytical center released a report on the opportunities and best practices of energy efficiency and “green” recovery for Ukraine. Among the key recommendations provided by the experts are establishing energy efficiency criteria for funding by interested parties, developing national training programs for specialists in the construction sector, and clearly defining the “energy efficiency fist” principle in the legislation.

Andriy Liubarets, an analyst of the Euroscope project by ANTS NGO conducted an analysis of Ukraine’s institutional and personnel readiness for the implementation of the reforms necessary for Ukraine’s accession to the EU. He concluded that enhancing the coordination of the European approximation efforts and significant developments in the public administration system, particularly in policy formulation, were necessary. Additionally, he emphasized the importance of advanced learning of European acquis communautaire at the higher education level.