European Union leaders begin a two-day summit Thursday where they are expected to grant EU candidate country status to Ukraine and also Moldova which would arrive in the long term, and be conditioned by deep reforms.
It is an “extremely important decision for the future” of the community club, underlined by the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, for whom this summit marks a “historic moment in geopolitical terms.”
The EU-27 is expected to take this first step in the accession process of these two countries, which may be reversible if they do not comply with the reforms demanded by the European Commission, at a summit that was preceded this morning by another one with the heads of state and government of the Western Balkans, who also aspire to join the community club.
“Today and tomorrow we have a very important and historic summit. We will renew our manifestation of solidarity with Ukraine”, declared the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, for whom the important thing now is to achieve the necessary conditions so that the road to the EU for the Ukrainian people is “successful.”
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A path that will not be easy, as recalled by the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, who assured that although his country was initially “worried” that the war would lead the European Commission to “rush” to recommend giving candidate status to Ukraine, he finally considers that the Community Executive has made a “balanced”, “exhaustive and fair” assessment of the work that still lies ahead for the country to join the EU.
“It is a tough, brutally honest assessment of all that still needs to be done for the Council to open negotiations as such, but, at the same time, it concludes that it is now possible to grant candidate status. And given the geopolitical situation, the horrible and completely despicable aggression of Russia against Ukraine is part of the situation and we should discuss it,” he said upon his arrival at the summit.
It is “very important to give hope for a European perspective” to Ukraine and Moldova, said Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, who considered that in the case of Ukraine there is a “window of opportunity in which everyone is together and ready to make the necessary reforms.”
The President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, expressed himself along the same lines, ratifying Spain’s support for Ukraine and Moldova to obtain the status of candidate countries, also advocating for Georgia to obtain it, and supported the revitalization of the debate on the enlargement to include the countries of the Western Balkans.
“The more we are, the more we have to abandon unanimity”, expressed the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, who insisted that, as the community club expands, “the more difficult it will be to reach unanimous agreements”, the reason, on his part, to advocated the need of a plan for the working methods in the EU.
Just today, the plenary of the European Parliament adopted a resolution (529 votes in favor, 45 against and 14 abstentions) calling on EU leaders to live up to their historical responsibility and send clear political signals to Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, confirming their European perspective.
In the current context of the “brutal war of aggression” against Ukraine waged by Russia, such a decision would be tantamount to demonstrate “leadership, determination and vision”, MEPs point out.
A membership that for these three countries, as for others, “must be used in times of war and has to be seen as a way for the EU to establish its geopolitical security,” said the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola.
If they are finally granted the candidate status, as expected, Ukraine and Moldova have to carry out the reforms set by the European Commission on judicial independence, fight against corruption and organized crime or implement the law limiting the power of the oligarchs.
The EU summit, which continues Friday, will also focus on Russia’s war against Ukraine, the Conference on the Future of Europe and various other economic issues.