Why formal accession negotiations with Ukraine should start with energy and climate

(EurActiv, 23 Jan 2024) Focusing first on energy and climate in Ukraine’s accession negotiations means nothing less than building a common Europe through a pragmatic approach, write Susanne Nies, Olha Bondarenko and Maciej Zaniewicz.

Susanne Nies is Project Lead and Olha Bondarenko is Senior Energy Policy Officer of the Green Deal Ukraїna project at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin. Maciej Zaniewicz leads the International Cooperation Program at Forum Energii, Warsaw. 

Is the EU heading for another big bang enlargement by 2030, like in 2004 when Central Europe, Malta and the Republic of Cyprus joined? Will there be full membership, or rather participation in the so-called four freedoms of the single market: the free movement of goods, capital, services, and labour? Are there additional options for fast and deep integration?

Ukraine is the largest of the candidate countries after Turkey, both in terms of population (40 million) and the sheer size of the country and its economy. It has about three times the surface, twice the population and 50% more GDP than the six others together.

Joining the EU has become even more important for Kyiv since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. Driving the aggressor out of the country while failing to join the democratic EU bloc would be no less than remaining exposed to a permanent threat. Ukrainian policymakers, as well as those in the EU, have understood this: Despite the war, rapid and deep reforms are on the way. Integration into the EU means winning the peace and ensuring Europe’s common security against today’s hostile Russia.

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EurActiv, 23 Jan 2024: Why formal accession negotiations with Ukraine should start with energy and climate