EU prospects for Ukraine and Moldova: “Signal of hope” in times of war

Status: 06/24/2022 07:07 a.m

After tough negotiations, the EU declared Ukraine and Moldova as candidate countries. With this, Brussels wants to give hope in difficult times. But there are still some major construction sites.

By Stephan Ueberbach, ARD Studio Brussels

It is the historic decision awaited at this historic summit: “We have decided to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, and we will do the same for Georgia once our benchmarks have been met there,” EU said – Council President Charles Michel.

Commission head Ursula von der Leyen spoke of a good day for Europe and of “a signal of hope for the people of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine in these difficult times” in view of the threats posed by the Russian war of aggression.

The Netherlands were also convinced

In the end, all 27 EU member states were on board, including the Netherlands, which had initially expressed concerns. However, Prime Minister Mark Rutte believes that the EU Commission’s recommendation of linking candidate status for Ukraine to extensive reforms is a “responsible and reasonable compromise.”

The EU Commission has confirmed that Ukraine is making good progress, but also sees some major construction sites, for example when it comes to the rule of law, freedom of the press and the protection of minorities – or in the fight against corruption and money laundering. It will therefore be a long time before Ukraine and Moldova can actually become part of the EU. There is talk of years, some even speak of decades.

Tough deliberations in Brussels

The “historical decision” is primarily a symbolic one. A sign of support for the Ukrainians who are defending themselves against the Russian attack – also in the interest of the EU. Because “Ukraine respects all basic European values ​​and is fighting not only for its freedom, but for the freedom of the entire democratic world,” says Lithuanian head of state Gitanas Nauseda.

However, the deliberations were slower than expected. Several countries, including Austria and Slovenia, had campaigned for binding commitments to be made to the Western Balkans as well. The accession candidates North Macedonia and Albania have been waiting for the start of negotiations for years, Bosnia-Herzegovina for candidate status, and Kosovo for visa facilitation for its citizens.

“We not only want to give the people of Ukraine hope for a better future, but also those of Bosnia, and that they will not be left alone,” said Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob.

Western Balkans: Departure without promises

As expected by many and feared by some, the meeting between the EU leaders and the western Balkan states before the summit brought no significant progress. Instead of firm promises, there were only warm words again this time. The disappointed guests had to go home empty-handed. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama spoke of a “shame”. There will be a new attempt in December. Kosovan President Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu put it this way: “The friendly talks must now be followed by action. We finally need a decision.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.