Ukraine’s EU dream: the long road to Brussels | Inquirer News

Ukraine’s EU dream: the long road to Brussels

/ 12:50 PM March 01, 2022
EU and ukraine flags

The Ukrainian flag flutters along side the European Union flag outside the European Parliament headquarters to show their support for Ukrania after the nation was invaded on February 24 by Russia, in Brussels on February 28, 2022. AFP

PARIS — With Ukraine pleading to be allowed to join the European Union as Russia invades, we look at the bloc’s history of expansion and its crowded waiting room.

Several expansions

The European bloc, which began with six countries in 1957, has expanded several times with some of the most geopolitically sensitive additions coming since 1995.

ADVERTISEMENT

That year Austria, Sweden and Finland joined, giving the bloc a border with Russia for the first time.

Then in an historic 2004 expansion, the EU embraced eight former communist countries including Poland, the Baltic states, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, as well the Mediterranean islands of Cyprus and Malta.

FEATURED STORIES

In 2007 former Eastern Bloc stalwarts Bulgaria and Romania also joined, followed by Croatia in 2013.

One departure

Then in 2016 came the shock of the Brexit referendum when the United Kingdom narrowly voted to leave. The acrimonious divorce was finalized in 2020.

The EU now has 27 members.

Five ‘candidates’

Four western Balkan countries are officially candidates for membership, but have been in the EU’s waiting room for several years.

North Macedonia has been waiting since 2005, Montenegro since 2010, Serbia since 2012 and Albania since 2014.

“We are one European family… and I’m deeply convinced we share the same destiny,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told them in October.

Turkey, a candidate since 1999, finally launched membership negotiations in 2005.

ADVERTISEMENT

But its relationship with the EU degenerated from 2013 and has never recovered from a harsh crackdown by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his opponents after a failed coup in 2016.

In 2019 EU governments declared the talks dead.

Potentials

Two other members of the former Yugoslavia — Bosnia and Kosovo — are considered as potential candidates, but do not yet meet the EU’s criteria for membership.

Brussels launched an Eastern Partnership with a raft of former Soviet republics in 2009 including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

It held out closer economic and political relations in exchange for reforms.

Some of these countries, notably Ukraine and Georgia, consider the accords as a stepping stone to full membership, but have been offered no guarantees by EU leaders.

Authoritarian Belarus suspended its participation last year.

Long, complex process

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked for “immediate” membership of the EU on Monday.

However, EU membership is a long and complicated process, and negotiations generally take several years.

While it took just four years to admit Finland, the three Baltic ex-Soviet republics went through nine years of talks and reforms.

The first step to membership is being recognised as a candidate country. Then lengthy negotiations start, during which it has to prove that it meets the EU’s democratic, economic and political standards.

Stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, respect of human rights and minorities and a viable market economy are musts.

Zelensky called for a new “special procedure” to speed up Ukraine’s membership, saying “I’m sure it’s fair. I’m sure it’s possible.”

RELATED STORIES

EU plans to grant Ukrainians right to stay for up to 3 years

EU sanctions Putin oligarchs, spokesman over Ukraine

US, Europe declare ‘unity’ against Russia over Ukraine

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Conflict, EU Membership, Russia, Russia-Ukraine war
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.



© Copyright 1997-2022 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.