MEPs show support for Ukraine
The European Union has started the procedure for considering the Ukrainian application for membership. When is it possible to acquire the official status of a candidate and how to convince Europe that the best way to stop Putin is to accept Ukraine into the European Union. Focus.
“With us, the European Union will be stronger. Without you, Ukraine will be lonely,” President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said in his speech to the European Parliament on March 1, 2022. He said Ukraine has proved that it has chosen Europe, now Europe must choose Ukraine and support EU accession.
On the same day, MEPs voted for a resolution on Ukraine. She recommends that the EU member states synchronize their actions in order to grant Ukraine the status of an accession candidate. The document was supported by an overwhelming majority, “only 13 opposed, 26 abstained.
Until quite recently, European politicians told Ukraine that our European prospects are too vague, that it will take a long time to wait, and that it is not possible to fulfill all the requirements quickly, and the EU is not ready for expansion. And therefore, applying is futile, they say, we will hear a refusal, which will only worsen the situation.
However, Ukraine did not agree, and even more put some deadlines. For example, the fifth president of Ukraine spoke about 2020 and 2024. In addition, Ukraine has declared its intentions in the Constitution.
Already after the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation, on February 28, Ukraine officially submitted an application – it was signed by the president, prime minister and head of parliament. Kyiv expects that circumstances are developing in such a way that Ukraine’s path to membership may be devoid of traditional bureaucratic procedures.
But even without them, the process of joining the EU is a long one, and there can be no talk of immediate entry, experts warn. The current decision of the European Parliament is rather a political step. First, because it is advisory in nature, it does not have the power to decide on the candidate’s status and EU accession process. The decision depends on each of the EU countries. Secondly, the European Parliament has previously supported this idea.
In fact, the EU accession process consists of several stages. The first is the signing of the Association Agreement, the second is inclusion in the official EU enlargement program, the third is the application for membership, the fourth is obtaining the status of a candidate member of the EU, the fifth is accession. For some countries this way lasts more than ten years. For example, Bulgaria applied for membership in 1994, but joined the European Union only in 2007. Now, thanks to a simplified procedure, Ukraine is in third place, bypassing the second.
“While the promise to accept under a special procedure is an advance payment and a sign of support and solidarity, how the implementation will take place is an open question,” says political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko. He is sure the procedure itself will be implemented after the end of the war.
In fact, the majority of EU residents support Ukraine’s accession to the Union. For example, in 2014 there were 52% of such people. Most of all those who disagree have always been in Germany. But after the declaration of war, you can see how the situation is changing – both in the rhetoric of the FRN leaders (albeit still rather cautiously), and in the actions of citizens (who take to the streets in tens of thousands in support of Ukraine). In addition, the statements of those European politicians who have always been considered close to Russia add optimism. For example, Czech President Milos Zeman. He signed a joint letter from eight presidents of the EU states (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Slovakia, the latter generally proposed that Slovakia proposed the creation of a special procedure for Ukraine’s accession to the EU) on the need to start the process of accelerating Ukraine’s accession to the EU. An even greater surprise was the fact that Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó also spoke in favor (in recent years there have been many disagreements between Ukraine and Hungary, it was Budapest that blocked negotiations with NATO).
“I would like to announce that Hungary supports this initiative and we call on Brussels to put the issue on the agenda,” he said.
Visible and invisible bonuses
Since 2014, Ukraine has been trying to tell the EU that the best way to stop Putin is to admit Ukraine into the European Union. Then the threat would be minimal. An example is the relations of the Russian Federation with the Baltic countries – in Moscow they understand big Europe behind small countries. Or the Balkans. It is impossible not to notice how countries that are not members of the EU, such as Bosnia or Montenegro, are subject to Russian influence.
But it was not possible to stop Putin at an early stage. Therefore, now it is necessary to look for new ways to peace, and perhaps joining the EU is one of the options.
Experts say that now there is a unique situation. Talk about Ukraine’s accession to the EU will not only be a response to Russian aggression, but also support – especially after the end of hostilities, when everything will have to be rebuilt.
“We will need large funds for the restoration of Ukraine, and for this, the help of Europe is important. It will be most effective if Ukraine is a member of the EU – Ukraine will be able to receive a large financial assistance program, – says political analyst Volodymyr Gorbach. And it is possible that the funds for the restoration of Ukraine may come not from the pockets of European taxpayers, but from the arrested accounts of the Russian Federation in European banks.