Ukraine becomes EU Candidate

It has been communicated by the President of the European Council Charles Michel that Ukraine has been granted EU Candidate status. This has been defined as an important moment and a significant milestone in Ukraine’s progression towards EU membership. Ukraine filed its application five days after the invasion started, following military tensions which lasted weeks. The application process is being fast-tracked.

The announcement was received well by the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. He further emphasised that this is a historical moment in the relationship between Ukraine and the European Union. He stated that Ukraine’s future belongs in the EU. When considering that Ukraine is going through an invasion, with lives being lost and infrastructure destroyed, it is clear to see that the country is paying a high price in its bid for independence.

The status of Candidate is the first official step to become a member of the European Union. Although it is a step in the right direction, Ukraine’s application may still take years, with no confirmation that it will be successful during this current phase. 

Credit: ​​© European Union, 2020, Source: Council of the EU – Audiovisual resources

The President of the European Commission highlighted that Ukraine’s membership within the EU will need to be based on merit, following all procedures. Actual negotiations will only take place after conditional reforms are addressed and implemented to satisfaction. Some of these include the strengthening of the rule of law and the fight against corruption. The European Commission is expected to take stock of the situation by the end of 2022.

The EU President Ursula von der Leyen stated that these latest developments showcase the strength of the bloc in the face of external threats. Throughout the past days, Zelensky’s speeches were characterised by his desire that the EU recognises Ukraine as a Candidate. Ukraine’s access to the EU is believed to place the country away from Russia’s influence. The support of the EU is deemed as critical in the context that Ukrainian people are dying every day, at the hands of Russia’s military.

Time will tell what Russia’s reaction would be to Ukraine’s attempted membership. The initial reaction by Russia is one that is downplaying this potential membership. The President of Russia Vladimir Putin was reported to claim that Ukraine has its sovereignty in deciding which economic unions to join or otherwise. Commentators are doubtful that Vladimir Putin will not try to hinder Ukraine in any way.

What do you make of these current developments? How do you think this will pan out? Let us know your views in the comments section below.

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