Ukraine on Course for EU Candidacy at Summit
With its announcement of support for Ukraine’s EU candidacy, the European Union has taken an important step toward its membership. Ukraine has long been seen as a potential candidate for membership in the EU, but its future participation will depend on how the bloc deals with the new addition. The EU’s membership process has been dramatic and incomplete, but this latest move has given Zelensky and her government a boost in the political arena.
Although the EU has a right to deny its candidate status to any country, it’s unlikely that a single country will be able to join the bloc automatically. But a candidate status does give the Ukrainian government a morale boost and offers the prospect of a more prosperous future in a free and democratic Europe. And it will also give the Ukrainian people hope that their country can become a member of the European Union.
While the speed of the process depends on how quickly the country reforms and develops, it appears that Ukraine is on track for candidate status. Though it has already stalled some reforms, the seven-step roadmap to EU membership includes key changes to meet the EU’s criteria. These changes are aligned with the aspirations of Ukrainian civil society and will likely accelerate with increased political will. The EU is a big club, and a candidacy may be the key to Ukraine’s future in the bloc.
Ukrainian officials have mentioned a range of possible membership dates, including 2020 and 2030. This is the first official step towards EU membership, which can take many years. However, the EU president has said that the accession process is merit-based and that formal negotiations would not begin until the conditional reforms are completed. In addition to Ukraine’s candidacy, Moldova and Georgia have both received approval for their candidacy, but have yet to meet the conditions needed to become members.
With the approval of the EU leaders at the first day of the leaders’ summit in Belgium, the Ukrainian government can begin the process of applying for EU membership. While the active phase of the war will prevent negotiations with Russia, the status as a candidate will help Ukraine’s position in future talks with Russia. This is a powerful message to Russia. So, if you are considering pursuing candidacy as a path towards EU membership, you should make sure that you take this step. It will help Ukraine’s economy tremendously.
While there is a lot of uncertainty ahead, despite the high stakes in the east, Ukraine is expected to receive a warm welcome at the summit. The Russian military failed to seize Kyiv in the early days of the war, and they are now concentrating their firepower in the east. This is a significant positive sign that Europe is ready to support Kyiv’s efforts towards EU membership.