The EU agreed to put Ukraine on a path to EU membership, acting with extraordinary speed and solidarity to pull the beleaguered country away from Russian influence and link it more closely with the West.
At a summit in Brussels on Thursday, leaders of the EU’s 27 nations convened the necessary unanimous approval to grant Ukraine Candidate status. This starts a membership process that can take years or even decades.
The move comes just one day shy of President Vladimir Putin’s four-month anniversary Order his troops into Ukraine Because what Russia insists is not war, but “special military operations.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked him on Twitter, declaring: “The future of Ukraine is within the EU.”
Heartfelt tribute to EU leaders #EUCO 🇺🇦Candidate status granted. This is a unique historical moment in a 🇺🇦-🇪🇺 relationship.grateful @CharlesMichelle, @von der Leyen and EU leaders. Ukraine’s future lies within the EU. #hug ukraine https://t.co/o6dJVmTQrn
– Volodymyr Zelenskyy (@ZelenskyyUa) June 23, 2022
“Today is a good day for Europe,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter.
The EU has also given candidacy to the tiny country of Moldova, another former Soviet republic that borders Ukraine.
Ukraine applied to join less than a week after Moscow invaded on February 24. Thursday’s decision was unusually quick for the EU and its slow approach to expansion. But the war and Ukraine’s demands for quick consideration have added a sense of urgency to the country’s cause.
To qualify for EU membership, countries must meet a detailed set of economic and political conditions, including a commitment to the rule of law and other democratic principles. Ukraine will have to curb entrenched government corruption and pursue other reforms.
The European Parliament approved Ukraine’s bid hours before the summit, passing a resolution calling on EU governments to “act without delay” and “fulfill their historic responsibilities”.
EU countries unite in support of Ukraine against russia Unprecedented economic sanctions against the Kremlin with money and weapons.
EU candidacy does not automatically confer the right to join the EU, nor does it provide any immediate security guarantees.
However, once a country gains membership, it is protected by EU treaty provisions, which obligate other EU countries to provide assistance to the best of their ability if a member falls victim to armed aggression.
The main benefit of joining the EU, though, is economic, as it allows for the free flow of labor, goods, services and capital into a market of 450 million consumers.
Ukraine has also been eager to join NATO, but the military alliance will not issue an invitation, in part because of government corruption, deficiencies in the country’s defense buildup and border disputes.
Before the war, Putin asked Ukraine not to join NATO, which he denounced as expanding eastward to the Russian flank.
But earlier this month, he appeared untroubled by Ukraine’s determination to approach the EU, saying it was not a military deal and therefore “we have no objections”.
EU leaders also agreed to recognize the “European perspective” of Georgia, another former Soviet republic.
European Council President Charles Michel said the EU would be ready to grant its candidacy status once “outstanding priorities” were resolved.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine’s European aspirations for many years, tweeted: “This is an important moment for Europe to unite and defend its fundamental values. The struggle for freedom also continue.”
The membership process can be long and tortuous.
Likewise, some Balkan countries have been seeking to join the EU for years without success.
Although the bloc has been rocked by a series of crises, including immigration and Britain’s exit from the bloc, the union remains popular, with approval rates among EU member states hitting a 15-year high, a survey this week showed.
However, public dissatisfaction with inflation and the energy crisis Russia tightens gas supply In response to sanctions, the topic was the second day of Friday’s summit.