BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union agreed Thursday to place Ukraine on a path towards EU membership, performing with uncharacteristic pace and unity to drag the embattled nation additional away from Russia’s affect and bind it extra carefully to the West.
Assembly at a summit in Brussels, leaders of the EU’s 27 nations mustered the required unanimous approval to grant Ukraine candidate standing. That units in movement a course of that would take years and even many years.
The EU additionally granted candidate standing to the tiny nation of Moldova, one other former Soviet state that borders Ukraine.
European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen pronounced it a “good day for Europe.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted his gratitude and declared: “Ukraine’s future is throughout the EU.”
Ukraine utilized for membership lower than every week after Moscow invaded on Feb. 24. Thursday’s choice was unusually fast for the EU. However the conflict and Ukraine’s request for fast-track consideration lent urgency to its trigger.
To realize EU membership, international locations should meet an in depth host of financial and political situations, together with a dedication to the rule of legislation and different democratic ideas. Ukraine, amongst different issues, will even need to curb entrenched authorities corruption and undertake different reforms.
The European Parliament endorsed Ukraine’s bid hours earlier than the summit began, passing a decision that known as on EU governments to “transfer directly” and “dwell as much as their historic accountability.”
“It is going to strengthen Ukraine, it would strengthen Europe. It’s a choice for freedom and democracy and places us on the correct aspect of historical past,” European Parliament President Roberta Metsola mentioned forward of the ultimate announcement.
The EU’s nations have been united in backing Ukraine in its struggle towards Russia’s invasion with cash and weapons, adopting unprecedented financial sanctions towards the Kremlin.
EU candidate standing doesn’t give an computerized proper to affix the bloc and doesn’t present any fast safety ensures.
As soon as a rustic positive factors membership, nonetheless, it’s lined beneath an EU treaty clause that claims if a member falls sufferer to armed aggression, the opposite EU international locations are obligated to help it by all of the means of their energy.
The principle advantages of EU membership, although, are financial, because it offers entry to a market of 450 million customers with free motion of labor, items, companies and capital.
Ukraine has lengthy aspired to affix NATO, too, however the navy alliance isn’t about to supply an invite, partially due to governmental corruption, shortcomings within the nation’s protection institution, and its contested borders.
Earlier than the conflict, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that Ukraine by no means be allowed to affix NATO, which he has condemned for its eastward unfold towards Russia’s flank. However earlier this month, he didn’t appear bothered by Ukraine’s willpower to get nearer to the EU, saying it isn’t a navy pact and thus “we’ve no objections.”
The membership course of will be lengthy and tortuous.
Turkey, for instance, utilized for membership in 1987, acquired candidate standing in 1999, and needed to wait till 2005 to begin talks for precise entry. Solely one among greater than 30 negotiating “chapters” has been accomplished within the years since, and the entire course of is at a standstill because of varied disputes between the EU and Turkey.
Equally, a number of Balkan international locations have been looking for with out success for a few years to affix the EU.
European officers have mentioned that Ukraine has already adopted about 70% of the EU guidelines and requirements, however additionally they have pointed to corruption and the necessity for deep political and financial reforms within the nation.
“Appreciable efforts will probably be wanted, particularly within the struggle towards corruption and the institution of an efficient rule of legislation,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo mentioned. “However I’m satisfied that it’s exactly the (postwar) reconstruction of Ukraine that may present alternatives to take necessary steps ahead.”