Ukraine & Moldova granted EU candidate status
By ECCT staff writers
European Union leaders agreed at a summit today to make Ukraine and Moldova candidates to join the bloc, marking an historic move by Brussels following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The symbolic step was taken by European leaders in record time and has been described by commentators as a victory for Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his government’s strongly pro-western integration agenda.
In a video address Zelenskyy said: “This is the greatest step towards strengthening Europe that could be taken right now, in our time, and precisely in the context of Russia’s war, which is testing our ability to preserve freedom and unity.” He added: “Thank you to the summit of all European leaders. Thank you to our heroes - to everyone who defends the independence of Ukraine and the freedom of Europe with weapons in their hands.”
However, the decision is very unlikely to lead to membership anytime soon. The leaders set out a number of conditions related to the rule of law, corruption and the judiciary which Ukraine must meet in order to progress to the next stage of accession negotiations.
The most recent country to join the EU, Croatia, took nine years to move from candidate status to membership.
Moldova, another former Soviet state, was also recognised as an EU candidate country at the summit today, also with additional conditions before it can progress to full negotiations.
Georgia, which applied to join in the weeks following Putin’s invasion, was told it could only be granted candidacy if it first met a series of conditions.