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EU summit: Ukraine and Moldova are candidate countries


For months Ukraine has repeatedly pushed for the status of an EU accession candidate – now the time has come. At their summit in Brussels, the heads of state and government also made Moldova a candidate. Georgia must continue to wait.

The European Union has officially included Ukraine, which has been attacked by Russia, among the candidate countries. In addition, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his colleagues decided at their EU summit to also grant Moldova the status of a candidate country, as Council President Charles Michel announced.

The Belgian spoke of a “historic moment”. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “Today is a good day for Europe.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj was connected live to the summit after the decision was made. He thanked Michel, von der Leyen and the heads of state and government for their support. He also welcomed the EU’s decision on Twitter. It is a unique and historic moment in bilateral relations. “The future of Ukraine is in the EU,” Zelenskyy tweeted.

Step should encourage Ukrainians

With the unanimous decision of the 27 member states, the EU recognizes the efforts of the two countries to gain accession to the EU and wants to encourage them to continue on their way with determination. In view of the Russian war against his country, Selenskyj in particular has repeatedly called for such a message from the EU – also to show the more than 40 million citizens of his country that the fight for freedom and democracy is worthwhile.

At the start of the EU summit in Brussels, Scholz once again urged that Ukraine be made a candidate for accession. The SPD politician spoke of a “historic” meeting of the heads of state and government, but also called for reforms in the European Union to enable the admission of new members. The EU must make itself “expandable,” he said. This also includes lifting the principle of unanimity for some decisions.

Lengthy recording process with no guarantees

Candidate status is not a guarantee of speedy admission to the EU. According to a recommendation by the EU Commission, EU accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova should only begin once they have fulfilled further reform requirements. It is about judicial reforms and a stronger fight against corruption.

The case of Turkey shows that the accession process can also end in a dead end. The country has had candidate status since 1999. However, the EU accession negotiations that began in 2005 have been on hold for years because of the unsatisfactory developments in the country from Brussels’ perspective.

Georgia not yet a candidate for accession

Almost four months ago, shortly after the start of the Russian attack, Ukraine applied for admission to the EU. Shortly thereafter, the small neighbor Moldova and Georgia in south-eastern Europe also submitted applications for membership.

Georgia, which has a population of around 3.7 million, will only be granted candidate status once it has met further reform requirements. According to the EU Commission, it is currently significantly more unstable than Moldova, which has around 2.6 million inhabitants, and the Ukraine.

Georgia will receive candidate status “as soon as the outstanding priorities have been addressed,” Michel wrote on Twitter. “Georgia’s future lies within the EU,” he stressed.