Ukraine and Moldova granted coveted EU candidate status
European Union leaders granted Ukraine & Moldova the status of official candidate to join their club consisting of 27 nations.
European Union (EU)
- EU is a unique economic and political union between 27 countries that together cover much of the european continent.
- The roots of the bloc lie in the aftermath of the Second World War.
- The initial steps were regarding fostering the economic cooperation by creating the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1958. It was initially between 6 countries namely Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
- 22 other members joined later creating a huge single market (also known as the 'internal' market).
- On 31 January 2020 United Kingdom left the European Union.
- What began as a purely economic union, with time, evolved into an organisation spanning policy areas, from climate, environment and health to external relations and security, justice and migration.
- The European Council brings together EU leaders to set the EU's political agenda.
- Defines the general political direction and priorities of the bloc
- It does not pass laws.
- Heads of state or government of EU countries, European Council President, European Commission President
- Current President: Charles Michel
- The European Commission is the EU's politically independent executive arm.
- It has the responsibility to draw up proposals for new European legislation, and it also implements the decisions of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.
- Promotes the general interest of the bloc by proposing and enforcing legislation besides implementing policies and the EU budget
- A team or 'College' of Commissioners, 1 from each EU country
- Current President: Ursula von der Leyen
Requirement for joining the EU
- Article 49 of the EU treaties state that any European nations which seek to join the bloc, must be committed to respecting and promoting the EU’s fundamental values as set out in Article 2 which includes respect for freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, etc.
- After the application is received, the member states judge the suitability of the application on the basis of these terms.
- Copenhagen Criteria sets out the specific criterias as developed by The European Council meeting in Copenhagen in 1993
- It includes a free-market economy, a stable democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the implementation of all EU rules and regulations in all areas, with Euro as the currency.
Process of joining the EU
- First stage
- The country is given the status of an official candidate. Ukraine completed the first stage of application.
- The application in this regard is submitted to the European Council, which asks the European Commission to assess the country's ability as per Copenhagen criteria
- Following this, if the Commission agrees, the European Council then agrees upon a negotiating mandate.
- Second stage
- The formal negotiations with the candidate begin.
- This involves the adoption of EU law into national law, and the implementation of judicial, administrative, economic and other reforms, called the accession criteria.
- Third stage
- Once the negotiations are completed and the accession criteria is met, they can join the EU.
- Membership is put to a final vote of the existing member states.
- For Ukraine and Moldova, the path to EU membership started.
- Now it will take Ukraine & Moldova more than a decade to eventually join the bloc.
- Georgia, another ex-Soviet state, was told it would get the same once it has fulfilled more conditions.
- Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted Kyiv to formally apply for candidate status, and the EU to fast-track its approval.
- EU acted with uncharacteristic speed and unity to pull Ukraine further away from Russia’s influence and bind it more closely to the West.
- The decision to officially accept these countries as candidates is a symbol of the EU’s intention to reach deep into the former Soviet Union.
- This is also a signal to Moscow that Ukraine, and other countries from the former Soviet Union, cannot belong to the Russian spheres of influence.
What Does Ukraine’s EU Membership Mean for Russia?
- Ukraine’s membership can help the country militarily, as EU members are bound by a clause of mutual defence.
- This makes mandatory for other members to help a country if it's a victim of armed aggression on its territory.
- Ukraine’s economy will also be benefitted through this inclusion and will also give it additional benefits such as free movement throughout the EU and a variety of rights which are available to EU citizens.