The heads of state and government of the Twenty-seven have unanimously approved that Ukraine and Moldova have the status of a candidate country to join the European Union. A step of strong content symbolic for the country invaded by the troops of Vladimir Putin and that is all a clear signal to Moscowbut that is open to numerous questions.
Never before has such a decision been made with a country mired in a war that no one knows when it will end and whose territorial integrity is in danger. It may take years or even decades for this accession to be fully effective, as Turkey is well aware, having achieved its candidate status since 1999 and whose entry process into the community club has been at a standstill for years with no signs of resurrection. .
the ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyhas assured that “Ukraine’s future lies in the European Union”, once the leaders of the Twenty-seven have granted Ukraine the status of a candidate to join the European bloc on Thursday.
“I sincerely welcome the decision of the leaders of the European Union in the European Council to grant Ukraine the status of a candidate,” Zelensky said on his Twitter social network profile.
But this message of unity has been overshadowed, if not sabotaged, by the rebellion of the Balkan countries claiming their place in the European club after decades of empty promises. And that, far from celebrating the decision on Ukraine, they have harshly attacked what they consider a comparative offense after the summit held this Thursday that ended without any result. As the last point of friction, Bulgaria’s veto for North Macedonia to start accession negotiations until Skopje does not recognize its cultural links with the country. A more difficult blockade to overcome if possible after the motion of censure against the liberal prime minister prospered this Wednesday Kiril Petkov.
Currently there are five countries from the region waiting to join the club: North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania. In the case of the first and the last – which received candidate status in 2005 and 2014 respectively – this step has not been accompanied by progress since the negotiations have not yet been formally opened due to the veto of several countries during these years (first of France that did not give the green light until it managed to harden the process). Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo have not even received the placet as candidate countries. “They are tired and so are we” summed up a diplomat before the summit, without predicting that fatigue would turn into anger.
Although the press conference between the Balkan countries and the community officials was canceled due to the lack of progress, they called another appearance before the media on their own.
The Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, has not only attacked Bulgaria but has also accused the accession process of being mired in a “rotten spirit” that allows a single Member State to “hijack” decision-making, which is a “shame”. For Dimitar KozavskisPrime Minister of North Macedonia, the situation “is a very heavy blow to the credibility of the EU” and warned that if the Twenty-seven do not advance in the accession process, “third parties will fill the gap”, referring to powers like China and Russia.
The incendiary speech of these countries even altered the agenda of the summit and the leaders of the Twenty-seven decided to hold a closed-door discussion on this issue before moving on to debate the future of the country invaded by Putin.
The green light for Ukraine has not been a surprise after last week the Community Executive presented a report in favor, subject to conditions in areas such as judicial independence, the fight against corruption or the siege of the oligarchs. Although Brussels understands that the war complicates everything, it also believes that there are measures that can be taken relatively quickly and is preparing a demanding exam in December. For example, the European Commission demands the implementation of new regulations to elect the judges of the Constitutional Court based on the integrity and professionalism of the candidates, a greater emphasis on the fight against corruption with the election of a new Prosecutor in this land and a new director for the Anticorruption office; the prosecution against money laundering is in accordance with international standards; the effective application of the anti-oligarch law; complete pending reform to protect minorities and greater powers for independent regulators in the audiovisual sector.
As the European Commission has repeatedly reminded us, we are facing a “dynamic” path. The latest reform of the accession process seeks to make it more demanding and that nothing can be taken for granted. From now on, it is possible to reopen chapters of the negotiations that were considered closed and even suspend the negotiations if Brussels considers that they are suffering setbacks in some areas. That’s why, in the month of December nothing prevents the European institutions from even revoking this candidate status.
In fact, the European Commission has not accompanied this decision with a proposal to unblock the pre-accession funds and leaves this step for a later phase. for now, Brussels has eliminated tariffs to trade with the country at war and is preparing a reconstruction plan worth 9,000 million eurosbut the details of which are still unknown.