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Accession negotiations, Ukraine Facility, and 12th sanctions package: EU summit outcomes

At the European Council meeting on December 14, 2023, several important decisions concerning Ukraine were agreed on.

Foremost, the European Council decided to open accession negotiations with Ukraine. The next expected steps include the preparation of the negotiation framework by the European Commission and the analysis of the conformity of Ukraine’s legislation to the EU acquis (screening).

The European Council meeting on December 14, 2023.
Photo: Ecaterina Casinge, Spokesperson of the President of the European Council / X (Twitter)

“The European Council has decided to open accession negotiations with Ukraine & Moldova. The European Council also granted candidate status to Georgia. And the EU will open negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina once the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria is reached and has invited the commission to report by March with a view to taking such a decision. A clear signal of hope for their people and for our continent,” commented Charles Michel, President of the European Council, on X (Twitter).

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed such a decision by the European Council and noted that there is plenty of work to be done further.

“This is a massive job – to integrate the state, all the institutions, all the norms into the European Union. But we will do it. Ukraine has repeatedly proved what we are capable of. There will be another victorious decision – the time will come when we will be able to celebrate Ukraine’s accession to the EU,” said Zelenskyy.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council.
Photo: Official website of the European Council

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine also welcomes the summit’s decision in principle to establish a €50 billion Ukraine Facility for 2024-2027. The funds allocated by the European Union within this initiative will be used to support macroeconomic stability, recovery, and modernization of Ukraine, as well as to accelerate its integration into the EU.

The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán opposed the joint proposal, a decision that requires the unanimous approval of all EU leaders. However, according to Charles Michel, the European Council will revert to this matter during an extraordinary summit expected to be held in Brussels in January 2024 to finally adopt the decision about future funding for Ukraine.

“This is a clear signal that Ukraine’s financial support from the European Union will continue. We are waiting for the completion of all the necessary legal procedures in January 2024, which will allow us to receive the appropriate financing as soon as possible,stated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

European Union countries agreed on a 12th package of sanctions against Russia. It is expected to include a ban on the export of welding machines, chemicals, defense technology, and software licensing, as well as an embargo on Russian diamonds.

As Andrii Yermak, Head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine, reported, there is hope that the 12th package of sanctions against the Russian Federation “will be officially adopted in the coming days”.

Address by the President of Ukraine to the participants of the European Council meeting.
December 14, 2023.
Photo: Presidential Office of Ukraine

According to the results of the first day of the session, the EU and its member states committed to continue meeting the urgent military and defense needs of Ukraine, in particular through the European Peace Facility (EPF) and the EU Military Assistance Mission, as well as through direct bilateral assistance by Member States. In particular, the European Council aims to intensify work on reforming the European Peace Facility and further increase its financing. Among the priorities are the delivery of missiles and ammunition, notably under the one million rounds of artillery ammunition initiative, and providing Ukraine with more air defense systems.

“We call on the EU to approve the new eighth tranche of aid within the European Peace Fund as soon as possible (…) We also hope for a quick agreement on the mechanism for the use of Russian frozen assets for the reconstruction of Ukraine, as well as their allocation to the needs of Ukraine, particularly through the Ukraine Facility,” emphasized the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.