Ukraine is one step closer to joining the EU


  • The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, recommended that Ukraine be formally granted candidate status in the EU, the first step in the long journey to become a member state of the bloc.

What is the current relationship between Ukraine and the EU?

  • Four days after Russia invaded Ukraine, requested the EU on February 28 to allow his country to become a member through a special procedure immediately, after which he officially signed an application for Ukraine’s membership.
  • Currently Ukraine, along with Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Republic of Moldova are categorised under the Eastern Partnership, which formed in 2009.

    Ukraine–European Union relations
    Source: Wikipedia
  • This joint policy partnership seeks to strengthen and deepen political and economic ties between the EU member states and the six “partner countries”.

What is the requirement for joining the EU?

  • Article 49 of the EU treaties state that any European nations that seek to join the bloc, must be committed to respecting and promoting the EU’s fundamental values set out in Article 2.
    • These include respect for freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, etc.
    • After the application is received, the EU members judge the suitability of the nation on the basis of these terms.
  • The European Council meeting in Copenhagen in 1993 set out more specific criteria. Called the Copenhagen Criteria, these include essential conditions that all candidate countries must satisfy.
  • Among them are a functioning market economy, a stable democracy and rule of law, and the acceptance of all EU legislation, including that of the Euro.

What is the process of joining the EU?

  • The procedure to gain membership of the EU consists of three stages.
    • In the first stage, the country is given the status of an official candidate.
    • In the second stage, formal membership negotiations with the candidate begin, which involves the adoption of EU law into national law, and the implementation of judicial, administrative, economic and other reforms, called the accession criteria.
  • Once the negotiations are completed and the candidate has met all the accession criteria, they can join the EU.
  • Becoming a member of the bloc involves a long and complex process. Even after candidate status is granted, the rest of the process takes years to complete.
  • The negotiation in particular goes on for long, and its duration can vary from country to country. The EU’s most recent member Croatia joined the EU in 2013, and it took 10 years to complete the process.

What happens with Ukraine’s application hereon?

  • Currently, the European Commission has only recommended that Ukraine (and Moldova) be granted candidate status.
  • To proceed to the accession talks, all member states have to unanimously approve of the prospective country. For Ukraine’s bid to move forward, the bloc will have to agree that Ukraine has met the Copenhagen Criteria.
  • Negotiations (the next step) take place in an intergovernmental conference, involving ministers and ambassadors of the EU government and the candidate nation.
  • Ukraine does not meet the Copenhagen Criteria yet. According to Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, Ukraine is placed 122nd on its list of 180 countries.
  • Some EU countries are reluctant to grant Ukraine candidate status. Denmark and Portugal have argued that if Ukraine was not at war, it would not be able to meet the qualifications for initiating membership talks.


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