Ukraine and Moldova granted coveted EU candidate status
June 24, 2022

In News:

  • European Union leaders granted Ukraine & Moldova the coveted status of official candidate to join their 27-nation club.

What’s in Today’s Article:

  • European Union (EU)About, European Council, European Commission, Membership
  • News Summary

In Focus: European Union (EU)

  • EU is a unique economic and political union between 27 EU countries that together cover much of the continent.
  • The predecessor of the EU was created in the aftermath of the Second World War.
    • The first steps were to foster economic cooperation by creating the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1958.
      • Initially economic cooperation was ensured between six countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
      • Later, 22 other members joined and a huge single market (also known as the 'internal' market) has been created.
    • On 31 January 2020 the United Kingdom left the European Union.
  • What began as a purely economic union has evolved into an organization spanning policy areas, from climate, environment and health to external relations and security, justice and migration.

European Council

  • The European Council brings together EU leaders to set the EU's political agenda.
  • Role
    • Defines the general political direction and priorities of the European Union
      • Although it decides the general political direction, it does not pass laws.
  • Members
    • Heads of state or government of EU countries, European Council President, European Commission President
  • Current President: Charles Michel

European Commission

  • The European Commission is the EU's politically independent executive arm.
  • It is alone responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, and it implements the decisions of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.
  • Role
    • Promotes the general interest of the EU by proposing and enforcing legislation as well as by implementing policies and the EU budget
  • Members
    • A team or 'College' of Commissioners, 1 from each EU country
  • Current President: Ursula von der Leyen

Requirement for joining the EU

  • Obligation
    • 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.
  • Consideration:
    • After the application is received, the EU members judge the suitability of the nation on the basis of these terms.
  • Specific criteria
    • The European Council meeting in Copenhagen in 1993 set out more specific criteria called the Copenhagen Criteria.
      • Copenhagen Criteria 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, including the Euro.

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 to meet those criteria.
    • Following this, if the Commission agrees that the applicant country meets the 'Copenhagen criteria', the European Council then agrees upon a negotiating mandate.
  • Second stage
    • The formal membership 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 candidate has met all the accession criteria, they can join the EU.
    • Membership is put to a final vote of the existing member states.

News Summary

  • The EU agreed to grant coveted EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, thereby putting these countries on a path toward EU membership.
  • However, it could take Ukraine & Moldova more than a decade to eventually join the bloc.

Key Highlights

  • New official candidates to join EU
    • Six years after Britons voted to leave the EU, Ukraine and its neighbour Moldova were granted candidate status.
    • Georgia, another ex-Soviet state, was told it would get the same once it has fulfilled more conditions.
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted this step
    • 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.
  • Signal to Moscow
    • 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 mutual defence clause.
  • This clause requires other members to help a country if it's a victim of armed aggression on its territory.
  • Moreover, admission to the bloc would also benefit Ukraine's economy and give it additional benefits such as free movement throughout the EU and a variety of rights granted to EU citizens.