The decision was eagerly awaited by kyiv and Chisinau. Ukraine and Moldova obtain the status of candidate countries for the European Union (EU), announced on Thursday 23 June the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, referring to a “historic moment” on Twitter. “It’s a good day for Europe”added Ursula von der Leyenthe President of the European Commission.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky immediately thanked “European leaders for their support”, also on Twitter. “The future of Ukraine is in the European Union”he added.
« Consensus total »
The European executive issued a favorable opinion on Ukraine’s candidacy a few days ago, and on Tuesday France, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, announced that a « consensus total » between the Twenty-Seven had emerged on this issue.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who constantly repeats his country’s membership of the “European family”led a real “telephone marathon” with European leaders to ensure a consensus in favor of yes.
Ukraine had filed its request a few days after the invasion of Moscow on February 24. While candidate status for EU membership does not offer immediate security guarantees, member countries are nonetheless covered by a clause in the EU treaty which states that if a member is the victim of an attack army, the other countries of the Union are required to help it by all the means in their power.
This decision, taken at a summit of heads of state and government of EU countries in Brussels, marks the start of a long and complex process with a view to membership. Obtaining membership can take years or even decades and is not guaranteed.
Countries must fulfill a detailed set of economic and political conditions, in particular they must commit to respecting the rule of law and other democratic principles. Ukraine will need to reduce government corruption and adopt other reforms.
Western Balkan anger
Blocked for years in the antechamber of the EU, the Western Balkan countries already applying for membership have for their part not hidden their bitterness at the length of the procedures. “We got nothing”summarized Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic dryly during a joint press conference in Brussels with his Albanian and Macedonian counterparts.
The veto opposed by Bulgaria to the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia for reasons of historical and cultural disputes has particularly upset the leaders of the Balkans. “The Bulgarian position remains unchanged until the Bulgarian parliament takes a decision”, announced Kiril Petkov, overthrown Wednesday evening by a motion of censure. The Bulgarian Parliament, which made him fall, could however decide on Friday to lift the veto.
Due to the Sofia-Skopje dispute, negotiations with Albania are also stalled, with the two bids being linked by the EU. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama denounced the blockage and the fact that the other 26 members of the EU “remain seated and offer a frightening spectacle of helplessness”. “It’s a good thing to give status” as a candidate in kyiv, he added, but he advised Ukrainians not to “no illusions” on a quick accession thereafter.