With the unanimous endorsement of the EU’s top officials, Ukraine’s aspirations to join the organization have cleared their first significant obstacle. But before it may fulfill the requirements for admission, a significant time may pass.
At a special conference held in Brussels, the leaders of the EU member states authorized the action. EU policymakers have approved Ukraine and Moldova as candidates, establishing a path to the membership that will probably take several years.
The application process for Ukraine was expedited because it submitted it less than a week after being invaded in February.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen tweeted that it was a historic moment and a “good day for Europe”. She also described the nations as members of the European family.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, referred to it as “one of the most significant decisions” in the country’s independent history.
Additionally, he acknowledged that it was the greatest step towards strengthening Europe that could be taken right now and congratulated each EU leader individually in a statement.
Maia Sandu, the president of Moldova, who shares a border with Ukraine, praised the occasion as significant for her small, landlocked country. A “difficult road ahead,” she added, but one that offered greater riches, more possibilities, and more order. The nation is one of the poorest in all of Europe.
Candidates must adhere to criteria on the state of their political and economic systems, as well as their commitment to the rule of law and other democratic ideals.
Ukraine will need to implement additional reforms as well as reduce public corruption.
The length of the procedure is not known. Turkey, for example, received candidate status in 1999, but its application has been delayed by several legal issues.
Ms. von der Leyen stated that the three nations all have work to do before going to the next step of the process, adding that she is certain they will proceed fast.
When a country joins the EU, it is safeguarded by a treaty provision that obliges other members to defend it in the event of an attack.
Many Ukrainians have long hoped to leave Moscow’s influence and join the EU.
Ukraine wants to join the NATO, a military alliance that is distinct from the EU, but doing so is currently unlikely, and President Vladimir Putin has vowed to prevent it from ever doing so.
The action is expected to enrage Russia, which has opposed Ukraine’s potential membership and stronger ties to the West.