Should Ukraine expect the status of an EU candidate and how it will help us

Should Ukraine expect EU candidate status and how it will help us

“The Commission does not forget that Ukraine is the only country in Europe where people died where people were shot because they were on the streets with EU flags. Now we can’t tell them: “Sorry guys, you waved the wrong flag,” the European Commission’s opinion says Politico.

But the recognition of Ukraine as a candidate country requires the unanimous approval of 27 heads of state and government in the European Council who are expected to take up the issue at their summit in Brussels next week. What does this mean for Ukraine?

What does EU candidate status mean

A candidate for EU membership is a status for a state seeking to become a full-fledged member of the European interstate association. Granting EU candidate status is primarily a political signal – the first step towards recognizing that a candidate country will one day become a member of the EU. In fact, granting candidate status will be a powerful political impetus for the continuation of deep transformations in all areas and further integration of Ukraine into the common EU market.

Acquiring the status of a candidate for EU membership will bring a number of advantages for Ukraine. Namely: in the process of accession, the candidate country gets access to EU financial instruments that help to better prepare for membership: to carry out reforms and implement EU legislation.

Candidate status opens up great opportunities for funding, investment and assistance. Under EU rules, candidates have the same financial privileges as members. That is, we can claim about 12 billion euros of assistance annually from EU funds to equalize living standards.

The possibility of admitting a certain state to the European Union is enshrined in Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union. It states that, theoretically, every country can apply to join the EU. In practice, however, the candidate's public authorities must fulfill a number of requirements. A number of prerequisites for joining the EU are reflected in Article 40 of the above agreement. Other requirements for states that have declared their desire to join the EU are contained in the so-called Copenhagen criteria. These criteria, which must be met by candidate states for accession to the European Union, were approved at the meeting of the European Council in Copenhagen in June 1993.

Obtaining the status of a candidate for EU membership by a state does not mean the transition to the euro, the abolition of a special work permit or obtaining a residence permit in the EU member states, unless this is secured by separate agreements.

For Ukraine, an accelerated procedures for the country's accession to the EU. A significant part of the reforms carried out by states before joining the EU, Kyiv has already carried out. But the accelerated process does not mean that Ukraine will become an EU member this year.

How long can a country be a candidate

Different countries are different. For example, Croatia became a member of the EU nine years ago, and the process of joining the union lasted ten years before obtaining the status of a member of the European Union. It is Croatia that is given as an example to Ukraine because of the similarity of state processes within each country and the war with its neighbor.

But Turkey applied for membership in 1987, and it took her 12 years to get the status of a candidate at the summit Helsinki 1999. And although the European Council has declared 2005 as the official start date for Turkey's accession negotiations, Turkey is still only a candidate for EU membership today.

In 2018, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called joining the European Union a strategic goal for the country. A year later, he spoke about the unwillingness of the European Union to accept Turkey into its composition, and the real reason for this is not the large number of the Turkish population, but the fact that the Turks are Muslims by religion. According to polls in 2017, 75.5% of Turkish citizens want to join the EU, but only 36% believe that the country will ever be admitted.

One way or another, but in 2021, the European Parliament proposed to suspend negotiations on Turkey's accession to the European Union. Europe believes that Ankara continues to drift away from the bloc's values ​​and norms and that President Recep Erdogan's “hyper-centralization of power” is observed in Turkey.

Currently, Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, and Montenegro have the status of candidate states. Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina are potential candidates for this status. Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine belong to the Eastern Partnership, through which the EU intends to help these states gradually introduce democratic and legal reforms that would bring them closer to EU accession.

Ukraine's chances of obtaining the status

Whether to grant candidate status is up to the member states of the European Union. This requires a unanimous decision of all 27 countries, and at the level of the European Council (presidents and prime ministers) and at the level of the EU Council (ministers). Many have already expressed support for granting Ukraine candidate status. Other states say they are waiting for the conclusion of the EC and will decide on its basis.

There are countries in Europe that do not want to give Kyiv the status of a candidate. For example, Denmark and the Netherlands at a meeting of EU ambassadors opposed granting Ukraine the status of a candidate for EU membership. In particular, Copenhagen is confident that Kyiv does not meet European requirements, writes Bloomberg.

– Most likely, Ukraine will receive the status of a candidate for joining the European Union. The chances are quite high. This step has already been supported by the European Parliament and the European Commission. And this suggests that Europe has overcome the opposition to Ukraine. Some of the countries that previously opposed the granting of such a status – Italy, Hungary, have already changed their position and are in favor. Otherwise, the European Commission would not have made a decision to recommend granting the status of a candidate for accession to Kyiv, – Ilya Kusa, an expert on international politics at the Ukrainian Institute of the Future analytical center, told KP in Ukraine.

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