Ireland supports EU entry talks for Ukraine starting next month

Government move to recognise state of Palestine remains ‘imminent’, Jennifer Carroll MacNeill says

Ireland would support a move to formally kick off negotiations with Ukraine about the country joining the European Union, which is expected to be discussed when national leaders meet next month, Minister of State for European affairs Jennifer Carroll MacNeill has said.

Late last year EU leaders agreed to open accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova, one of the initial steps on the long road towards membership. A proposal to give the go ahead for those membership talks to formally begin is being drawn up by diplomats, with reports that it may be on the agenda when the 27 EU leaders meet for a summit at the end of June.

Speaking on Tuesday, Ms Carroll MacNeill said the Government would like to see the process given the green light to move to the next stage at that summit meeting. “Ireland has been one of the earliest supporters of Ukrainian and indeed Moldovan accession and we would like to see that happen as soon as possible,” she said. “There’s quite a body of work to do over the next number of weeks to get to that point, but Ireland is absolutely firmly behind that,” she said.

The Fine Gael junior minister said there should be a particular focus on pushing ahead with talks about Ukraine joining the EU, given the war it was waging with Russia.


There is a push to sign off on the formal start of the talks before Hungary takes over the rotating presidency of the council of the EU, a deal making role the country is due to assume for six months on July 1st. There is concern progress could be stalled during the second half of the year, given Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has been resistant to Ukraine joining the EU.

Separately, Ms Carroll MacNeill said the recognition of the state of Palestine by Ireland and a number of other countries, such as Spain, was “very imminent”. The Government was still planning to take the decision by the end of this month, she said. “Whether it is today, tomorrow, or this day next week, really what’s important is the substance of what we’re trying to do here … It will be very very soon,” she said.

“What we have been trying to do all along is co-ordinate as best we can, with other countries that would take a similar view,” she said. The junior minister said the group of countries who were discussing the plans wanted to “make the biggest statement possible,” she said. Ms Carroll MacNeill was speaking in Brussels on her way into a meeting of EU ministers.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times