European Union leaders agree to open membership talks with Ukraine

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Viktor Kovalchuk | Getty Images

Ukraine has moved one step closer to European Union membership after leaders in Brussels agreed to open negotiations with the war-torn nation.

In a surprise announcement late Thursday, EU summit chair Charles Michel, who is the European Council president, said leaders had decided to open accession negotiations with Ukraine.

The European Council has decided to open accession negotiations with Ukraine & Moldova,” he said via X.

“#EUCO 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,” he added.

“A clear signal of hope for their people and for our continent.”

The agreement comes despite Hungary pledging to block this decision during the current two-day EU summit. A handful of other EU member states, such as Italy, have also raised issues over enlarging the EU.

EU leaders arrive in Brussels for European Council meeting

Details of the agreement were not immediately clear and there was no confirmation on whether talks would start now or in March.

European heads of state had been gearing up for a difficult two-day gathering where support for Ukraine is at the top of the agenda. The meeting comes at a crunch time for Ukraine, as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hops across the world seeking further aid in the fight against Russia’s invasion.

Speaking via X, Zelenskyy replied to Michel saying it was “a victory” for his country and Europe. “A victory that motivates, inspires, and strengthens,” he said, according to a Reuters translation.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, meanwhile, called it a bad decision and said via Facebook that his country did not participate in the decision-making process.

-CNBC’s Silvia Amaro contributed to this article.


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