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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
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Ukraine Granted EU Membership Candidate Status


President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on June 17, 2022. | Image by euronews.com

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The European Union (EU) agreed on Wednesday to put Ukraine on the path to membership, acting with unusual speed and unity to pull the beleaguered country further away from Russia’s influence and bind it more closely to the West.

“I sincerely welcome the decision of the EU leaders to grant Ukraine the status of a candidate, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted. “The future of Ukraine is in the EU.”

At a summit in Brussels, leaders from the EU’s 27 member states obtained the necessary unanimous approval to grant Ukraine candidate status.

The prodromal initiates a membership process that could last years or even decades.

Moldova, another former Soviet republic bordering Ukraine, was also granted candidate status by the EU.

“Agreement. #EUCO has just decided EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova,” President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen tweeted. A historic moment. Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU. Congratulations…Our future is together.”

Ukraine applied for membership soon after Moscow invaded the country in the final week of February, The Wall Street Journal reports. Wednesday’s decision was swift for the EU, considering its customarily cautious approach to expansion. However, the war and Ukraine’s request for expedited consideration lent the country’s cause urgency.

Countries seeking EU membership must meet a slew of economic and political requirements, including adherence to the rule of law and other democratic principles. Ukraine must address entrenched government corruption and implement other reforms according to membership guidelines.

The European Parliament backed Ukraine’s bid just hours before the summit, passing a resolution urging EU leaders to “move without delay” and “live up to their historical responsibility,” WSJ reports.

“It will strengthen both Ukraine and Europe,” said European Parliament President Roberta Metsola ahead of the final vote.

“It is a decision for freedom and democracy that puts us on the right side of history,” reports WSJ.

The EU nations have provided Ukraine with money and weapons in response to Russia’s invasion. They have also established unprecedented economic sanctions against the Kremlin.

EU candidate status does not imply automatic membership in the bloc and does not guarantee immediate security.

Once a country officially joins the EU, it becomes subject to Article 42.7 of the EU Treaty, which states that if an EU member is the victim of armed aggression, the other EU countries are obligated to assist it using all available means.

The main economic benefits of EU membership are access to 450 million consumer markets and free movement of labor, goods, services, and capital.

Ukraine has long wished to join NATO. Nonetheless, the alliance is hesitant to extend an invitation due to Ukraine’s contested borders and shortcomings in the country’s defense establishment, WSJ reports.

Before the war, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that Ukraine be denied membership in NATO, which he has criticized for its eastward expansion toward Russia’s flank, The Dallas Express reports.

Earlier this month, he appeared unconcerned about Ukraine’s determination to move closer to the EU, claiming that it is not a military treaty and thus, Russia has “no objections.”

“Ukraine has officially been granted EU candidate status,” Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted.

His country has long supported Ukraine’s European aspirations: “It’s a great day for Europe — a historic moment for European unity and the defense of its values. The fight for [Ukraine’s] freedom continues!”

The membership process can be time-consuming and tedious, but Ukraine has already adopted roughly 70% of EU rules and standards. Nonetheless, the country is characterized by pervasive government corruption and the need for economic reforms, Breitbart reports.     

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