The decision will formally initiate the Kiev accession process
The leaders of the 27 countries of the European Union meet between this Thursday (23) and Friday (24), in Brussels, to give candidate status to Ukraine, which has asked to join the bloc after the invasion promoted by Russia .
The European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, has already recommended the formal start of the accession process, but the final decision rests with the European Council.
“It is a turning point for the European Union, I am confident that today we will give candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova and express a strong European perspective for Georgia”, said EU President Charles Michel before the start of the EU meeting.
Granting candidate status requires the unanimous approval of the 27 member states, but, at least publicly, no country has expressed opposition. This step, however, is more symbolic than practical, and EU representatives have already made it clear that Ukraine will not take shortcuts to join the bloc.
The accession process is long and complex and requires the candidate to implement a series of political and economic reforms and to adapt to European legislation in all areas, including health standards, taxation, public procurement, freedom of the press and independence from power. .
Proof of this are the other five countries that already have candidate status, but are not even close to joining the European Union today: Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.
Austria, Finland and Sweden now hold the speed record in the EU accession process: 1,431 days, or almost four years. The latest EU member, Croatia, submitted its candidacy in 2003 and only joined the bloc in 2013.
Balkans – The enlargement of the European Union into the Balkans is also the subject of the leaders’ meeting on Thursday and Greece has proposed that the European Council set the year 2033 as the deadline for the accession of the countries of the region, which gives the measure the complexity of this process.
Greece itself has blocked any progress in negotiations with North Macedonia for years due to the dispute over the Balkan country’s name, which was only resolved in 2019. However, Skopje faces opposition from Bulgaria over an identity dispute. .
As Albania’s accession process is linked to that of North Macedonia, its negotiations with the EU are also at a standstill.
“It is a shame that one NATO country, Bulgaria, is holding two other NATO countries hostage, North Macedonia and Albania, in the midst of a war in their backyard, and that another 26 countries are immobile and helpless. “, complained on Thursday the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama arrives in Brussels for a meeting on the expansion of the bloc in the Western Balkans.
The EU’s high representative for foreign policy, Josep Borrell, criticized the principle of unanimity that guides the decisions of the European Council.
“Today we should have started negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, so I cannot hide my regret. There is still hope, but things do not seem to be going well. We must try to resolve the situation, and this shows that unanimity is a problem, it cannot go on with a country that blocks everything, “he said. .