The reforms demanded of kyiv convince the most reticent Member States and pave the way for its integration into the EU
European foreign ministers on Monday cleared the way for Ukraine to be considered a candidate country to join the European Union (EU). The small print required by Brussels to kyiv for its accession, with major reforms in the area of the rule of law and the fight against corruption, have cleared the doubts of the countries most reluctant to enlarge the community bloc.
The candidacy of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia is expected to be the big debate at the European summit this Thursday and Friday in Brussels. And the meeting of foreign ministers this Monday in Luxembourg served to test the position of the Twenty-seven. The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, underlined the great step that Brussels’ positive assessment of Ukraine’s accession represents and described the step taken by the EU as “historic”.
The high representative expects the Twenty-seven to give “clear and strong support” to the three countries and stressed that the EU has already begun preparatory work for its European integration. “I have not heard any member state against it,” he noted.
The support of Italy, France, Germany and Romania was already evident in the trip their leaders made to kyiv last week. And this Monday the French Foreign Minister, Catherine Colonna, once again stressed the importance of granting Ukraine the status of a candidate country: “It is a political, strategic and moral imperative.” Within the framework of the Russian invasion of the country, the French minister assured that the EU must send “a clear and positive message” to kyiv.
The Member States know that the path to join the Union is long and complicated. There are currently five candidate countries; the oldest Turkey, which has been waiting since 2004. There is also a division among the Twenty-seven on the enlargement of the EU, a gap that seems to have been closed by the war in Ukraine. “It is a historic moment in which we all have to reflect on what we will be in the coming years if we take the wrong direction in this situation,” warned German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.
Brussels expressed itself in the same sense last week. As the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, pointed out, “Ukrainians have come very close to the EU_in recent years.” However, kyiv still has major reforms ahead of it. One of the most important is the launch of the anti-corruption body, in a country where the oligarchs have great influence over political and judicial power.
It is precisely this small print that seems to have put an end to the reticence of the countries opposed to the enlargement of the EU. The Dutch chancellor, Wopke Hoekstra, positively valued the “balanced” proposal from Brussels and anticipated that the Netherlands will support the candidacy. “It is a good proposal that points out the tremendous importance of unity in this geopolitical context,” said the head of Foreign Affairs, Wopke Hoekstra.
The Czech Republic also asked European leaders for “political will” to support the Ukrainian people, “who are dying for European values” in the war launched by Moscow. “It is a special situation and we must reflect it, it is a political decision,” said his chancellor, Jan Lipavsky. For his part, the Latvian Foreign Minister, Edgar Rinkevics, emphasized the “progress of the country” in democratic reforms to get closer to Europe.
The bloc’s unity against Russia was also clear. The head of European diplomacy insisted that the Russian Army prevents the departure of 20 million tons of grain from Ukraine, which is causing a major food crisis. “It is a war crime. A deliberate act to create a global famine », he assured, while calling for a ceasefire to release these foods. Borrell also pointed out that military support for Ukraine “is assured” for the duration of the war.