The Heads of State and Government of the European Union they have an appointment in Brussels this Thursday to discuss granting Ukraine the status of a candidate for joining the bloc. The Twenty-seven want to give a new sign of support for kyiv against the Russian invasion; leaving behind the historical reservations of some of the partners, such as France either Germanyto the enlargement of the union.
Although the president of the European Comission, Úrsula Von der Leyen, has made it clear that there will be no “shortcuts” for any of the applicants. And even though she has remembered that the process can be reversed at any time if the candidate does not advance in the demands of the member countries; the start-up of this “express” process has been received with unrest for Western Balkan countries such as Albania and North Macedonia, which also aspire to join the European Union and whose applications are blocked by Bulgaria; which cites historical and linguistic differences to veto the official opening of accession talks.
The “Copenhagen criteria”, essential to enter the bloc
The Maastricht Treaty of 1992 It provides that any European country that respects the rule of law and the principles of freedom, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms can apply to become a member of the European Union. With this in mind, the candidacy of Albanianthe Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegrin, Serbian Y Turkey. Although Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are also potential candidates. And on today’s date, it is expected that they will also be included in the list of candidates Ukraine and Moldova.
If all these countries want to meet their target and become part of the block, they must meet the criteria that the member countries have established for their accession. The democratic values that serve as criteria for membership are commonly referred to as “Copenhagen criteria”because they were defined at the Copenhagen European Council in 1993. And they are as follows:
- Dispose of stable institutions that guarantee democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the respect and protection of minorities
- guarantee a market economy to work and the ability to cope with competition and market forces in the EU
- Ability to accept and effectively apply membership obligationsincluding adherence to the goals of political, economic and monetary union.
If the candidates are able to pass these standards, will have shown that they are capable of playing their role as member states and they will be considered as official candidates to enter the EU; thus opening one pre-accession stageduring which these countries will be able to benefit from assistance provided by the EU, while the adhesion agreements.
The block of twenty-seven -for its part- must also be ready to integrate new members. So that reserves the right to decide when it is in a position to accept them or of impose some additional conditions for their accession, which are negotiated in the so-called “accession agreements”. In the case of the integration process of the Western Balkan countries, for example, some additional conditions were established in the so-called ‘Stabilization and Association Process’.
These conditions are usually related to implementation and application, by the candidate, of all the regulations in force within the European Union, so that the institutionality and material conditions of this country are compatible with those of the member countries in matters such as transport, energy or the environment. All these changes do not have to be immediate, the union gives candidates a deadline to adapt to the new reality. In addition, the European Union also provides additional guidance to candidates, accompanying them to guarantee that the process will be unquestionable by the other members of the bloc.
However, all this that may seem simple on paper… It is not at all when it is put into practice. For example, the last country to join the European Union was Croatia in 2013… and to achieve this, it was candidate for nearly a decade. Ultimately, even if the Commission decides to consider these countries as candidates, they would have a long way to go until its eventual entry into the European community becomes effective.