“Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU,” European Council President Charles Michel mentioned on Twitter after talks in Brussels. Leaders additionally agreed to approve Moldova’s candidacy.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky mentioned he “sincerely commends” the European Council’s choice, calling it “a unique and historical moment in EU/Ukraine relations.”
The choice, made at an EU Council summit, comes every week after President of the European Commission Ursula von Der Leyen mentioned it was the opinion of the bloc’s govt physique that Ukraine deserved candidate standing as a result of it “has clearly demonstrated the country’s aspiration and the country’s determination to live up to European values and standards.”
However, it’s nonetheless prone to be years earlier than Ukraine is ready to be part of the EU. The course of is prolonged and requires settlement from the 27 member states at virtually each stage. This signifies that there are a number of alternatives for member states to make use of their veto as a political bargaining chip.
Before Ukraine can begin negotiations to affix the bloc, it should first meet the Copenhagen standards — an opaque trio of necessities that concentrate on whether or not or not a rustic has a functioning free-market economic system; whether or not its establishments are match to uphold European values comparable to human rights and the EU’s interpretation of the rule of legislation; and whether or not it has a functioning, inclusive democracy.
It is unlikely that Ukraine will have the ability to meet these standards whereas the nation is at struggle, nevertheless, von der Leyen acknowledged that it had began making progress on reaching them lengthy earlier than the invasion.
Once these standards are met and all member states have agreed to start out talks on the 35 negotiating chapters — starting from commerce to legislation to civil society — Ukraine should then make home reforms with the intention to meet the required requirements in every of those areas. Again, all member states should agree that these necessities have been met earlier than closing every chapter.
Once that has occurred, the European Parliament and legislative agendas should approve the choice and, lastly, Ukraine will likely be an EU member state.
The common time it takes to affix the EU is 4 years and 10 months, in keeping with the assume tank UK in a Changing Europe. However, some member states in jap Europe have needed to wait so long as 10 years.
On high of a prolonged and complex course of, there are additionally political issues that would thwart Ukraine’s European dream.
Not each member state is thrilled about Ukraine being thought-about for accession to the bloc. Therefore, it’s probably that at each stage a number of will likely be tempted to throw a spanner within the works with the intention to get a concession on one thing else that the EU is debating — comparable to allocation of EU cash.
France and Germany and Hungary have been lower than full-throated of their assist. It was solely after a go to to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, that the leaders of France, Germany and Italy indicated that they’d assist Ukraine’s candidate standing. Hungary has additionally dragged its ft, for numerous causes, although most notably as a result of it’s Russia’s largest ally within the EU.
Some European nations have additionally been criticized by Zelensky for not offering sufficient weapons as Ukraine is within the midst of a determined battle to defend the Luhansk area within the east of the nation.
The causes for his or her hesitance vary from issues about corruption to a shift in energy from the west of the bloc to the east if Ukraine is admitted. There are additionally issues about how a lot of the EU funds Ukraine may eat up.
While all member states have supported the candidacy, there are nonetheless a number of alternatives for leaders to dig of their heels over the approaching years.
Ukraine’s lengthy journey to the EU has solely simply begun. Its candidate standing may current an ethical victory and ship a loud message to Russia. But the fact is, Ukraine should now — just about by itself — make reforms that might be onerous sufficient at one of the best of instances, not to mention whereas beneath invasion from a international military.