June, 2022 may become a critical time in the context of Ukraine's European integration aspirations. The application for EU membership that Ukraine submitted at the beginning of the full-scale war will be discussed at the summit on June, 23–24.

However, by June, 17, the European Commission should approve an opinion on Ukraine's application for EU membership. It will be adopted on the basis of the analysis of the questionnaire which responses Ukraine sent in April and early May. Meanwhile, on June, 8, the European Parliament had their say when adopting a resolution recommending to grant Ukraine the candidate status. Eventually, on the basis of the Commission's opinion and taking into account the decision of the European MPs, the European Council may decide to grant Ukraine a candidate status and start accession negotiations.

No Alternatives to EU Candidacy

It is certainly an optimistic scenario. However, other “creative” and “alternative” solutions are being discussed in European capitals – there are countries in the EU who are skeptical about Ukraine's European integration prospects. Thus, Austria proposes to create a so-called “European preparatory space” that will strengthen Ukraine's cooperation with the EU step by step, to help better adapt to European standards. France went further and suggested creating a “European political community” around the European Union because Ukraine's accession to the EU may take decades. The idea was also supported in Berlin. 

On the other hand, Ukraine does not support such scenarios. Kyiv insists that Ukraine should get the candidate status for EU membership without any alternatives. “We reject any attempts to find any unwanted alternative or to find any other solutions for Ukraine. We need to be like you. We want Ukraine to get the candidate status,” — said the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi during a meeting of the European Council on May, 30.

Ukraine Meets the Copenhagen Criteria

In addition, the Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, repeatedly emphasized that Ukraine needs the candidate status for EU membership, rather than the status of a “candidate for candidates,” “potential candidate,” or any other surrogate. OPORA shares this position and believes that Ukraine has met the Copenhagen standards in many respects, demonstrating a long, difficult, but progressive road of reform, in particular, in terms of electoral democracy and parliamentary openness.

It will just suffice to mention the adoption of the Electoral Code and transition from a hybrid post-Soviet parallel electoral system (when half of MPs are elected in majoritarian districts, where voter bribery and misuse of administrative resources were widely practiced) to a proportional system with open lists. This type of electoral systems is used in a number of EU member-states, for example, in the Netherlands, Italy, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Belgium a.o.

The law provides Ukrainian citizens with ample opportunities to influence decision-making processes through direct democracy tools, such as an all-Ukrainian referendum, public consultations, electronic petitions, among others. Work is underway to develop legislation on the local referendum. 

The Verkhovna Rada is open to public scrutiny and transparent in conducting their activities in terms of accessibility for the public and the media. In particular, an open data portal of the Verkhovna Rada has been created with 461 data sets, which significantly simplifies access to information about the work of the parliament for the public and the media. NGO representatives and experts are involved in the development of legislation. 

We mentioned above only the areas where OPORA is active. At the same time, more than 200 NGOs have prepared a joint statement emphasizing that Ukraine confidently meets the criteria for candidate status. “The EU’s annual reports recognize progress in reform. In May, 2022, non-governmental think tanks submitted individual appeals to the EU calling to recognize Ukraine as a candidate state, given the progress in the implementation of the Association Agreementanti-corruption effort, advances in energy sector, and reforms in general. More than 90% of Ukrainians support the movement to the EU,” the statement reads.

The European Integration Tour Yielded First Results.

However, compliance with the criteria is one thing, whereas political relevance is a different matter. Obviously, Ukraine is also aware of it. That is why the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Ruslan Stefanchuk, went on a Euro-advocacy tour to Germany and France in early June to convince the political leaders of these countries to support Ukraine in receiving the candidate status for EU accession. In addition, on June, 8, he attended a meeting of the European Parliament that passed a decision to recommend to the European Council to grant Ukraine the candidate status for EU membership.

During his address in the European Parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk noted that in the event that on June, 24, the EU does not support Ukraine and does not grant it the candidate status, it will come as a message for putin who will understand that he can continue without punishment.

It seems like a fair point. 

Message from the Commission

Another important event was the visit to Ukraine of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. On June, 11, she had a meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky. Following the meeting, the President of the European Commission said that the negotiations she held with the President of Ukraine will allow to finalize the assessment of Ukraine's application by June, 17. In addition, Ursula von der Leyen noted the progress of our state, but also highlighted that the Ukrainian government still needs to work on certain reforms – in particular, in the areas of the rule of law and the fight against corruption.

According to OPORA, the outcomes of these negotiations and the achievement of a common vision on certain issues will determine the decision to be made by the European Commission this week. We hope that the decision will come positive, and Ukraine will soon receive the candidate status for EU membership.

Ukrainians See Their Future in the EU

Today, Ukrainian society is fighting for the right to choose their own future. Ukrainians see their future in the EU, and they mean it. It can be confirmed by the latest sociological surveys showing that since the beginning of the war, support for EU accession has grown from 68% to an unprecedented 91%.

It makes sense, especially after russia has been carrying out a bloody promotion of the "russian space" since February.

There are no alternatives to the European integration for Ukraine today.

If Ukraine is granted the candidate status for accession to the EU, it will further inspire Ukrainians to win the war — it will come as the victory of the civilized world over the world of savages. 

European friends, do not let us down!

Ukraine won't fail you!