EU leaders agreed to start negotiations on Ukraineʼs accession to the European Union

Sofiia Telishevska

EU leaders have decided to start negotiations on the accession of Ukraine and Moldova to the European Union, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, said. The institution also granted candidate status to Georgia, while negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina on accession will begin as soon as the membership criteria are met.

"This is a clear signal of hope for their peoples and for our continent," Michel wrote.

Now the blocʼs executive body will begin technical work on the preparation of the accession process, which involves drawing up plans and checking the level of compliance of Ukrainian legislation with European legislation in parallel with the completion of future reforms.

Next comes the stage of negotiations, which can last for years, because the path to membership is long and difficult. Croatia was the last country to join the bloc, with its application under review for 10 years before the country was officially accepted into the EU in 2013.

It should be noted that any decision on EU expansion must be unanimously approved by all 27 current members of the bloc, including Hungary.

When will we become a member of the EU?

This will happen only after Ukraine fulfills all requirements and fully implements all European standards.

There are various examples in the history of EU enlargement. Finland applied in 1992, and already in 1995 it became a member of the European Union. Poland applied in 1994 and joined the EU 10 years later. The last country to join the European Union is Croatia. It applied in 2003 and became a new member of the EU in 2013.

There are also countries that still remain candidates for admission. These are four Balkan countries: Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. Turkey has the same status. But in all these countries the process is stalled. Turkey does not meet the requirements of the EU at all and shows no desire to join it. In Serbia, the majority of the population does not want to join the European Union, and the country itself has close ties with Russia. Albania has not even started accession negotiations, and in Montenegro, with the change of government, the foreign policy orientation is also changing — sometimes towards the EU, then towards Serbia. North Macedonia is doing the most to join the European Union, but its progress is being blocked by its neighbors. First Greece demanded to change the name — and the Macedonians did it, now Bulgaria demands from North Macedonia to recognize that its people and language have Bulgarian roots and come from Bulgaria.

The most important thing is that after receiving the candidate status, everything will completely depend on the Ukrainian authorities. It will receive a clear list of reforms that must be implemented, and society will have the opportunity to control this process. In addition, the candidate status will mean access to financial funds of the European Union — in fact, the EU itself will provide money for reforms. One thing can be said for sure: the sooner Ukraine reforms, the sooner it can become a member of the EU.