“As we speak marks an important step in your path in direction of the EU,” European Council President Charles Michel stated on Twitter after talks in Brussels. Leaders additionally agreed to approve Moldova’s candidacy.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky stated he “sincerely commends” the European Council’s choice, calling it “a singular and historic second in EU/Ukraine relations.”
The choice, made at an EU Council summit, comes every week after President of the European Fee Ursula von Der Leyen stated it was the opinion of the bloc’s govt physique that Ukraine deserved candidate standing as a result of it “has clearly demonstrated the nation’s aspiration and the nation’s willpower to reside as much as European values and requirements.”
Nonetheless, it’s nonetheless more likely to be years earlier than Ukraine is ready to be part of the EU. The method is prolonged and requires settlement from the 27 member states at virtually each stage. Which means that there are a number of alternatives for member states to make use of their veto as a political bargaining chip.
Earlier than Ukraine can begin negotiations to hitch 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 equivalent to human rights and the EU’s interpretation of the rule of regulation; and whether or not it has a functioning, inclusive democracy.
It’s unlikely that Ukraine will be capable of 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.
As soon as these standards are met and all member states have agreed to start out talks on the 35 negotiating chapters — starting from commerce to regulation to civil society — Ukraine should then make home reforms so as to meet the required requirements in every of those areas. Once more, all member states should agree that these necessities have been met earlier than closing every chapter.
As soon as that has occurred, the European Parliament and legislative agendas should approve the choice and, lastly, Ukraine shall be an EU member state.
The typical time it takes to hitch the EU is 4 years and 10 months, based on the suppose tank UK in a Altering Europe. Nonetheless, some member states in japanese 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 of for accession to the bloc. Due to this fact, it’s doubtless that at each stage a number of shall be tempted to throw a spanner within the works so as to get a concession on one thing else that the EU is debating — equivalent 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 might 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 explanations 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 would possibly eat up.
Whereas 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 would possibly current an ethical victory and ship a loud message to Russia. However the actuality is, Ukraine should now — just about by itself — make reforms that will be arduous sufficient at the very best of instances, not to mention whereas below invasion from a overseas military.