Accession of Ukraine to the European Union

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EU accession process of Ukraine and assorted associated criteria
European Union Ukraine Locator.svg
Current State of Play
Unscreened Candidate
Proposed EntryNot earlier than 2029[1]
Chapters Unopened35
Chapters Open0
Chapters Closed0
European Perspective Recognized18 April 2014[2]
Association Agreement1 September 2017
Candidate Status Granted23 June 2022
Membership Application28 February 2022
Questionnaire
  1. Received
    8 April 2022
  2. Submitted
    9 May 2022
  3. EC Approval
    17 June 2022
  4. Returned
Application Approved23 June 2022
Negotiations StartTBD
Screening CompletedTBD
All Chapters CompletedTBD
Ratification of TreatyTBD
AccessionTBD
NATO
AccessionUncertain
  1. reform of the Constitutional Court
  2. continuation of judicial reform
  3. anti-corruption
  4. anti-money laundering
  5. implementation of the anti-oligarchic law
  6. harmonization of audiovisual legislation
  7. change in legislation on national minorities
Adoption of EuroTBD
EU averageUkraine
Population16,555,83741,167,336 (excl. Crimea)
Area156,417 km2
60,536 mi2
603,628 km2
233,062 mi2
GDP$634 billion
(nominal, 2021 est.)
$742 billion
(PPP, 2021 est.)
$181 billion
nominal, 2021 est.
$584 billion
PPP, 2021 est.
GDP per capita $34,149
(nominal, 2021 est.)
$44,766
(PPP, 2021 est.)
$4,380
nominal, 2021 est.
$14,150
PPP, year est.
HDI0.8950.779
Gini30.226.6
Differences upon EU Accession
Entire EU
EU Population488,174,932
Increase 9.2%
EU Area4,836,890 km2
1,867,534 mi2
Increase 14.3%
EU GDP
EU GDP per capita
HDI
Gini
New Official LanguagesUkrainian
Increase 1
Average EU Member
Avg. EU Member Population
Avg. EU Member Area
Avg. EU Member GDP
Avg. EU Member GDP per capita
Eastern Partnership7 May 2009
Others
Schengen Visa Liberalisation11 June 2017
Accession to Schengen AreaTBD

On 28 February 2022, shortly after it was invaded by Russia, Ukraine applied for membership of the European Union (EU). Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy requested immediate admission under a "new special procedure",[3] and the presidents of eight EU states called for an accelerated accession process.[4] European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen stated that she supports Ukrainian accession, but that the process would take time.[3] On 1 March 2022, the European Parliament recommended that Ukraine be made an official membership candidate,[5] and on 10 March 2022, the Council of the European Union asked the commission for its opinion on the application.[6] On 8 April 2022, von der Leyen presented Zelenskyy with a legislative questionnaire,[7] which Ukraine responded to on 9 May.[8]

On June 17, 2022, the European Commission recommended that the European Council grant Ukraine candidate status for accession to the EU.[9][10] Simultaneously with the recommendation to approve the status of the candidate, Brussels put forward demands to Kyiv for reforms, providing a list of seven points. These requirements must be met in order for Ukraine to maintain candidate status, because the granting of candidate status in June 2022 is not final and the EU can revoke it if the Ukrainian government does not make progress on the reform agenda.[11]

On June 23, 2022, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for the immediate granting of candidate status for EU membership to Ukraine.[12][13] On the same day, the European Council granted Ukraine the status of a candidate for accession to the EU.[14]

Chronology of relations with the European Union[edit]

The flag used by activists in the Euromaidan protests.

The European Union–Ukraine Association Agreement was signed in 2014 after a series of events that had stalled its ratification culminated in a revolution in Ukraine and overthrow of the then incumbent President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych.[15] The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with Ukraine came into force on 1 September 2017 after being provisionally applied since 1 January 2016,[16] and the Association Agreement fully came into force on 1 September 2017.[17] On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, leading to the membership application.

  European Union member states
  European Union member states supporting accelerated membership for Ukraine[18][19]
  European Union member states supporting accelerated granting of candidate status to Ukraine
  Ukraine
  Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories (before 24 February 2022)
Timeline
Date Event
1991 Declaration of the European Union on Ukraine.
1992 The first Ukraine-EU summit.
1993 An agreement was signed between the European Communities and Ukraine on trade in textile products, the opening of a representative office of the Commission of the European Communities in Ukraine.
1994 The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine ratified the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Ukraine and the EU.
1995 The first meeting of the Joint Committee Ukraine - EU, the establishment of the Representation of Ukraine to the European Communities.
1996 The European Union has recognized Ukraine's status as a country in transition. The Council of the European Union has adopted an action plan for Ukraine.
1997 An agreement on trade in steel products was signed between the European Coal and Steel Community and the Government of Ukraine.
1998 Entry into force of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Ukraine and the EU, Ukraine has officially declared its desire to become an associate member of the EU, adopted a resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine "On the introduction of a mechanism for adapting Ukrainian legislation to European Union.[20]
1999 The EU has reaffirmed its intention to facilitate Ukraine's accession to the World Trade Organization and the launch of a free trade area between Ukraine and the EU.
2005 The Council of the European Union has granted Ukraine the status of a market economy country, another summit.
5 March 2007 Negotiations have begun to conclude a new enhanced agreement to replace the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.
2008 Entry into force of visa facilitation and readmission agreements between Ukraine and the EU.
7 May 2009 Ukraine became a member of the EU's Eastern Partnership initiative
16 June 2009 During the meeting of the EU-Ukraine Cooperation Council, the "EU-Ukraine Association Agenda" was politically approved.
25 February 2010 The European Parliament has approved a resolution on the situation in Ukraine, which, in particular, recognizes Ukraine's right to join the European Union. The European Commission is also given a mandate to work on a "road map" for visa-free travel between Ukraine and EU countries.[21]
2013 A joint statement was adopted at the Brussels summit stating that Ukraine is "determined to comply" with EU conditions so that the parties can sign the Association Agreement and the Free Trade Area.
21 November 2013 The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has decided to suspend the process of preparation for the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union, as a result of which mass demonstrations began across the country against the suspension of the European integration process — Euromaidan.[22][23] On November 24, a mass protest took place in Kyiv, attended by more than a million people.[24]
21 March 2014 The political part of the European Union–Ukraine Association Agreement was signed in Brussels with the participation of Prime Minister Arsenii Yatseniuk.
27 June 2014 The fifth President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko signed the second (economic) part of the Association Agreement with the European Union.
16 September 2014 The European Parliament ratified the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union simultaneously with the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (via a teleconference via Skype).
1 November 2014 The provisional application of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union has entered into force.
13 February 2017 The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine ratified the Agreement between the Government of Ukraine and the European Union on Ukraine's participation in the COSME program.
13 July 2017 The Ukraine-EU summit in Kyiv completed the ratification process of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union and the entry into force of the visa-free regime between Ukraine and the European Union.[25]
9 July 2018 The 20th anniversary Ukraine-EU Summit took place.[26]
12 October 2021 An agreement on the Common Aviation Area was signed at the Ukraine-EU summit in Kyiv.[27]
28 February 2022 The sixth President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky signed an application for Ukraine's accession to the European Union under the "accelerated procedure".
1 March 2022 The European Parliament almost unanimously voted in favor of the resolution, which called on the European Union institutions to work to give Ukraine candidate status for membership in the European Union.[28]
16 March 2022 NPC Ukrenergo, the system operator of the power grid, NPC Ukrenergo together with its European colleagues completed the integration with the Synchronous grid of Continental Europe and became part of ENTSO-E.[29]
25 March 2022 During the informal summit of the European Union, Member States supported Ukraine's European aspirations and invited the European Commission to provide its conclusions on the application for EU membership.[30]
8 April 2022 The President of the European Commission handed over a questionnaire to Ukraine to obtain candidate status.
17 April 2022 Ukraine responded to the first part of the questionnaire.
9 May 2022 Ukraine responded to the second and final part of the questionnaire.
17 June 2022 The European Commission recommended granting candidate status to Ukraine.[31]
23 June 2022 The European Council granted Ukraine the status of a candidate for accession to the European Union.[14]

2002–2005[edit]

In 2002, EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenther Verheugen said that "the European perspective for Ukraine does not necessarily mean membership in the next 10-20 years, although it is possible." To join the European Union, the applicant state must meet the political and economic conditions commonly known as the Copenhagen Criteria (adopted at the Copenhagen Summit in 1993), namely a democratic government that recognizes the rule of law and relevant freedoms and institutions. According to the Maastricht Treaty, each current Member State, as well as the European Parliament, must agree on any enlargement.

Obtaining the status of a full member of the EU as a strategic goal of Ukraine was first declared by President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko immediately after his election in early 2005.[32] On 13 January 2005, the European Parliament almost unanimously (467 in favor, 19 against) adopted a resolution on the European Parliament's intentions to converge with Ukraine on membership. The European Commission notes that, although a certain preparatory period has yet to pass, the admission of new members is not ruled out. To which President Yushchenko responded with his intention to apply for membership "in the near future."

Several influential EU leaders at the time expressed support for improving ties with Ukraine. In particular, Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld stated on 21 March 2005 that Poland would support Ukraine's European integration aspirations under any circumstances. In particular, he said: "At this stage, we should focus on concrete steps of cooperation instead of empty talks about pan-European cooperation." Three days later, a survey in the six largest EU countries showed the commitment of EU citizens to accept Ukraine as a full member in the future.

In October 2005, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that "Ukraine's future is in the EU." However, on 9 October 2005, the European Commission, in a new version of the Development Strategy Paper, stated that the implementation of enlargement plans (Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republics) could block the accession of Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said the EU should avoid "too much enlargement", stressing that the current enlargement plan looks complete.[33]

Although Ukrainian officials and political scientists mentioned several specific dates for possible membership, only Ukraine's European Neighborhood Policy has been officially proposed to Ukraine by the EU so far. The presidential administration has been critical of the proposed status of neighborhood relations.

2007–2014[edit]

In March 2007, Ukraine was offered a Free Trade Agreement with the EU. Although this proposal provoked a much stronger reaction from the Ukrainian state, it did not contain specific plans for Ukraine's accession to the EU in the near future. Some Western European politicians have spoken of the temporary "fatigue of enlargement" of European institutions. Ukrainian observers identify the so-called "resistance group" of Ukraine's accession to the EU. In particular, when concluding the text of the Enhanced Agreement between Ukraine and the EU in March 2007, references to the prospect of membership were excluded from it. "Any mention of the prospect of Ukraine's accession to the European Union has been excluded from the draft enhanced Ukraine-EU agreement due to France's position," wrote the influential German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Italy's position depends on the domestic political situation of this country. Thus, during the election campaign in this country, the government of Silvio Berlusconi gave diplomatic signals that he was ready to support Ukraine's European integration aspirations. His political opponent Romano Prodi, on the other hand, said that "Ukraine's prospects for joining the EU are the same as in New Zealand."

According to the Eastern Partnership policy, Ukraine can become a member of the European Union.[34] On 27 February 2014 the European Parliament passed a resolution that recognized Ukraine's right to "apply to become a Member of the Union, provided that it adheres to the principles of democracy, respects fundamental freedoms and human and minority rights, and ensures the rule of law".[35][36] The European Parliament notes that in accordance with Article 49 of the Treaty with the EU, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, like any other European country, have a European perspective and can apply for EU membership in accordance with the principles of democracy, - said in a resolution of the European Parliament in Brussels, adopted at the last session before the elections to the European Parliament, which took place on 23–25 May 2014.[37] 27 June 2014 The President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso stated that the Association Agreement is the beginning of Ukraine's accession to the EU.[38] On the same day, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele stated that he believed in Ukraine's future membership in the EU.[39]

2014–2022[edit]

In March 2016, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker stated that it would take at least 20–25 years for Ukraine to join the EU and NATO.[40] In June 2018, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko said he expects Ukraine will join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation by 2030.

On 21 February 2019, the Constitution of Ukraine was amended to enshrine the norms on the strategic course of Ukraine for membership in the European Union and NATO in the preamble of the Basic Law, three articles and transitional provisions.[41][42]

At the X session of the Ukraine–Poland–Lithuania Interparliamentary Assembly, which ended on 8 June 2019 in Kyiv, the parties signed a final document containing an agreement on the strategy of 2025 and 2027 as a period for Ukraine's possible accession to the EU. In 2027, when Lithuania will hold the EU presidency for the second time, the issue of Ukraine will be the main issue on the agenda. If this opportunity is not used, the next "window" will open in 2039, when Poland will preside over the EU and Lithuania will preside only in 2041.[43]

On 23 July 2020, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine created a tripartite platform for political, economic, cultural and social cooperation - the Lublin Triangle, which aims to support Ukraine's integration into the EU and NATO.

In February 2021, the leader of the presiding Christian Democratic Union of Germany, Armin Laschet, who was considered a likely successor to Angela Merkel as Chancellor of Germany, supported the idea of EU enlargement and giving Ukraine a European perspective:[44]

The question of Ukraine's accession to the EU does not arise at the moment, but it will inevitably arise in the future. We must support Ukraine on its difficult path and at the same time open a European perspective.

Quite a few experts believe that in times of deteriorating relations between Russia and the EU,[45] Ukraine has a window of opportunity to join the European Union. Pavlo Klimkin noted that Ukraine still does not meet any criteria for joining the European Union, as it does not have an established democracy, rule of law and a full-fledged market economy. According to him, the first chance was lost in early 2005, when Yushchenko was persuaded not to apply, and in 2014, it was much more difficult to do so.[46]

On 11 February 2021, the European Parliament published a report on Ukraine's success in implementing the Association Agreement with the European Union. The document highlights both the main successes of Ukraine on this path, as well as failures or moments that hinder the reform process in the country. In general, the European Union is not yet ready to officially talk about the prospects of Ukraine's accession to the ranks of member states, but Ukraine's European perspective is recognized.[47] In 2021, Ukraine was preparing to formally apply for EU membership in 2024, in order to join the European Union in the 2030s.[48]

Application[edit]

Signing of the application for accession to the EU, February 28, 2022

Following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, there were additional calls to start a formal accession process: Ukraine reiterated its desire to become a member of the union,[49] and European Commission president von der Leyen stated that Ukraine belongs in the European Union.[50] Slovak prime minister Eduard Heger expressed support for an accelerated accession process.[51]

On 26 February 2022, Polish president Andrzej Duda called for Ukraine's accelerated accession to the EU. On 27 February, Slovenian prime minister Janez Janša, together with Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, proposed a plan for Ukraine's rapid integration into the EU by 2030 in a letter to European Council president Charles Michel. Slovakian prime minister Eduard Heger also proposed to the EU to create a new special procedure for Ukrainian accession, in order to help Ukraine get back on its feet and recover from the war in the future.

On 28 February, Ukraine officially submitted a letter of application for membership.[3] Due to the ongoing crisis, President Zelenskyy requested immediate admission to the European Union under a special procedure.[3][52] On the same day, eight EU states signed a letter supporting an accelerated accession process for Ukraine,[18] and on 1 March, Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó stated his country would also support an accelerated process.[19] On 1 March, the European Parliament, following a debate in which the President of Ukraine addressed and received applause, recommended that Ukraine be made an official candidate for EU membership.[53] The European Parliament voted to advance Ukraine's membership with 637 in favour, 13 against, and 26 abstained.[54][55]

On 1 March, the presidents of eight EU member states (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Poland, the Slovak Republic, and the Republic of Slovenia) signed an open letter calling on Ukraine to be given the prospect of EU membership and start the process of negotiations immediately. On the same day, Hungarian foreign minister Peter Siarto called for Ukraine's accelerated accession to the European Union.

On 2 March, Spanish foreign minister José Manuel Albares stated that "belonging to the EU is not a capricious process or one that can be done by a mere political decision", reminding that the candidate country "must meet certain social, political and economic standards".[56]

On 7 March, the EU said it will formally assess Ukraine's application[57] and on 10 March, the Council of the European Union asked the commission for its opinion on the application.[6]

On 9 March, the Polish Senate adopted a resolution calling on the countries of the European Union to support the accelerated process of Ukraine's accession to the EU with 93 votes in favor. "Ukrainian society has undoubtedly proved that it is ready to be part of a united Europe and ready to pay with blood for devotion to European values. Ukrainian soldiers, defending the borders of their country, protect the whole of Europe," the document reads.

Presentation of the EU membership questionnaire on 8 April 2022, by the President of the European Commission von der Leyen and the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

On 8 April, Commission President von der Leyen, after visiting Bucha in the aftermath of the massacre, visited Kyiv and met with President Zelenskyy. Von der Leyen presented Zelenskyy with the legislative questionnaire to begin Ukraine's application and offered to fast-track the process.[7] Borrell announced that the EU delegation to Ukraine, headed by Matti Maasikas, will return to Kyiv after it was evacuated at the outbreak of war.[58] On 17 April, Ukraine responded to the first part of the legislative questionnaire,[59] while it responded to the second and final part on 9 May.[8]

According to Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Olha Stefanishyna, three EU countries opposed granting the status to Ukraine. Among which, according to Bloomberg, the Netherlands and Denmark. Germany, on the other hand, offered to give Ukraine a conditional status, under promises to fulfill certain requirements.[60]

On 29 May, in order to support Ukraine's accession to the EU,[61] in particular to obtain the status of a candidate for membership in the European Union,[62][63] the Government of Ukraine launched a communication campaign "Embrace Ukraine. Strengthen the Union" set for 25–26 June.

After a meeting with Volodymyr Zelenskyy on 16 June in Kyiv, the leaders of Germany, Italy, Romania and France called for immediate candidate status for EU membership for Ukraine.[64] Federal Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz noted that Ukraine's further movement into the EU, if all countries agree to grant it candidate status, depends on its own efforts.[65] Separately, French President Emmanuel Macron explained that the visit to Ukraine of the leaders of the three largest EU economies - Germany, Italy and France, as well as the President of Romania was aimed at creating unanimity in the European Union regarding Ukraine's first step towards accession, which is the granting of candidate status: it was accepted the decision to grant Ukraine candidate status without additional conditions, but then to impose conditions on reforms at all subsequent stages.[66]

On 17 June, Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said that the Danish government is ready to support granting Ukraine candidate status for EU accession if the European Commission provides a positive recommendation.[67] The Netherlands on the same day appealed to the European Commission with a call to carefully prescribe the conditions for Ukraine's further approach to EU membership. In particular, the European Commission is called upon to prescribe in its conclusion what reforms Ukraine will have to implement in the future. The Netherlands provided a detailed description of what they consider to be the essential criteria.[68][69]

The EU flag being solemnly brought into the hall of the Verkhovna Rada on 1 July 2022. The event shares similar connotations with the introduction of the state flag after the declaration of Ukraine's independence.

Also on 17 June, the European Commission recommended that the European Council grant Ukraine the perspective to become a member of the European Union and candidate status for accession.[9][10][31] Simultaneously with the recommendation to approve the candidate status, the Commission listed seven required reforms to be implemented by Ukraine:[70]

  1. reform of the Constitutional Court;
  2. continuation of judicial reform;
  3. anti-corruption, including the appointment of the head of the SAPO;
  4. anti-money laundering;
  5. implementation of the anti-oligarchic law, including recommendations of the Venice Commission;[71]
  6. harmonization of audiovisual legislation with European;
  7. change in legislation on national minorities.

These requirements had to be met in order for Ukraine to retain its candidate status. The candidate status of June 2022 was contingent, not final.[11]

On 23 June, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for the immediate granting of candidate status for membership of the European Union to Ukraine and Moldova, as well as to support the European perspective for Georgia.[12][13] On the same day, the European Council granted Ukraine the status of a candidate for accession to the European Union.[14]

Negotiations[edit]

As of July 2022, negotiations have not yet started. The European Commission committed to assess completion of the seven criteria at the end of 2022, after which the next steps will be defined. Ukraine aims to start negotiations by early 2023.[72]

Public opinion[edit]

In Ukraine[edit]

The flag of the European Union on the tower in Vinnytsia

Traditionally, Western Ukraine is found to be generally more enthusiastic about EU membership than Eastern Ukraine. In July 2012 and in May 2014, residents of West Ukraine (74% in July 2012 and 81% in May 2014), Central Ukraine (59% and 64%) and North Ukraine (56% and 71%) were the biggest supporters for EU membership. A June 2013 poll, on behalf of Deutsche Welle, found that 52% of Eastern Ukraine was in favor of joining the EU.[73] But in a poll by ComRes (for CNN) in May 2014 only 19% of Eastern Ukraine considered Ukraine joining the European Union "Good". The May 2014 ComRes poll found out that in the three most eastern Oblasts of Ukraine (provinces), Kharkiv Oblast, Donetsk Oblast and Luhansk Oblast, 37% favored an alliance with Russia, 14% backed an alliance with the European Union and 49% stated Ukraine would be better off if it did not ally with either.

Citizens aged between 20 and 39 appeared to be the strongest supporters of joining the EU in May 2010 and December 2011 (in December 2011 the opinion of the age group 18–29 did not vary from one region to another).[74][75] In the May 2014 ComRes poll, people aged between 36 and 55 where the strongest supporters of joining the EU. Ukraine's EU ambassador, Kostiantyn Yelisieiev, stated in July 2011 that business tycoons and politicians from Ukraine's Russian speaking east were as much pro-EU as the Ukrainian speaking west of the country: "If any politician today in Ukraine declared himself to be against European integration, he would be politically dead."[76]

91% of Ukrainians support joining the European Union during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine,[77][78] according to a poll conducted by the Rating Sociological Group on March 30–31, 2022,[79] up from 66.4% in February 2015.[80]

In the EU[edit]

According to a survey conducted by Ifop commissioned by the Yalta European Strategy and the Fondation Jean-Jaurès from March 3 to 7, 2022, 92% of supporters of Ukraine's accession to the EU in Poland, 71% in Italy, 68% in Germany, and 62% in France.[81]

The Flash Eurobarometer survey conducted in April in all EU countries shows the greatest support for Ukraine's accession to the EU in Portugal, where 87% of respondents supported it. This is followed by Estonia (83%), Lithuania (82%), Poland (81%) and Ireland (79%). Hungarians are the most skeptical about Ukraine's accession, with only 48% of respondents supporting the idea (37% against). At the same time, Hungary has the highest share of the population who is undecided on this issue - 16% (the same in France and Belgium).[82]

According to a poll commissioned by the New Europe Center, which has European Pravda, among those who have decided on their position, 68% of Germans, 65% of French, and 65% of Dutch people were in favor of granting Ukraine a candidacy. At the same time, 32% of Germans and 35% of the French and the Dutch each oppose such a decision. In general, 46% of Germans residents support granting Ukraine the status of a candidate for EU membership, 22% are against it, another 25% found it difficult to answer, and 7% found it difficult to answer the question. Among French residents, 42% support granting Ukraine candidate status, 24% do not support it, 26% do not have a clear position, another 9% found it difficult to answer. In the Netherlands, 45% of respondents support Ukraine's candidacy, 24% are opposed, 21% found it difficult to choose an answer, and 10% do not know.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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