What’s next for Ukraine’s path to EU accession?

Experts discuss the implications of EU enlargement in Eastern Europe.

Members event
4 December 2023 — 5:00PM TO 6:00PM
Chatham House and Online

Event recording

Experts discuss the role that the EU accession process will play in Ukraine’s reconstruction and democratic consolidation.

The European Commission’s 2023 Enlargement Package, adopted on November 8, recommends accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova and offering candidate status to Georgia.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen commended Ukraine’s efforts to meet the necessary criteria amid a brutal war. This marks a significant shift for both Ukraine and the EU, the latter of whom had deprioritized enlargement prior to the Russian invasion.

The EU’s awakening from its ‘innocence’ following Russia’s full-scale war on Ukraine, has prompted an increasingly geopolitical approach to enlargement in the eastern neighbourhood.

While member states are expected to endorse the Commission’s recommendation in December, in the long term, Ukraine’s membership hinges on sustained support from the EU27, which may diminish over time.

This raises questions about European defense and security with Ukraine, and in opposition to Russia; about balancing internal reform and enlargement, and about finding unity while expanding as a body politic.

Concerns over potential challenges to the European economy, internal governance, and regional security prompt discussions on key questions including:

  • What role the EU accession process will play in Ukraine’s reconstruction and democratic consolidation?
  • How realistic is it for accession to take place while the war is ongoing. Does it depend on the outcome of the war and if so, what are the options?
  • How will Ukraine’s EU membership, as well as that of Moldova and Georgia, affect EU-Russia relations?
  • Will the EU accept Ukraine and other candidate states without reforming first?
  • How sustainable public support is for enlargement among current member states given past ‘fatigue’?

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