Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Ukraine’s a Step Closer to Joining the EU. Here’s What It Means, and Why It Matters
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 4 months ago on
December 14, 2023

Share

BRUSSELS — Ukraine got a green light Thursday to start sped-up talks on joining the European Union. That’s a big boost for war-ravaged Ukraine and a loud message to Vladimir Putin – but it could be years or even decades before the country actually becomes a member of the EU.

Here’s a look at what Thursday’s decision means, and why joining the EU is especially important, and especially hard, for Ukraine.

What Is the EU and How Do You Join?

The European Union was born after World War II as a trading bloc with a bold ambition: to prevent another war between Germany and France. The six founding members were Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Since then, the EU has steadily expanded to contain 27 democratic nations, many from the former communist bloc in Eastern Europe, inspired by the idea that economic and political integration among nations is the best way to promote prosperity and peace.

This notably led to the creation of the shared euro currency in 1999, the continent’s open borders, and trailblazing rules to reduce carbon emissions and regulate tech giants.

To join the EU, candidate countries must go through a lengthy process to align their laws and standards with those of the EU, and show that their institutions and economies meet democratic norms. Launching accession talks requires approval by consensus from the 27 EU nations.

Why Joining Is Important to Ukraine

Ukraine is one of several countries that have long wanted to join the EU, seeing it as a path to wealth and stability. While the EU is not a military alliance like NATO, membership in the bloc is seen by some as a rampart against Russian influence.

Ukraine officially applied for EU accession less than a week after Russia invaded in February 2022. The capital Kyiv faced the threat of capture, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government faced the threat of collapse.

The start of membership talks less than two years later is only one step in a long journey. But it sends a strong signal of solidarity with Ukraine just as U.S. support for Ukraine’s military is faltering and a Ukrainian counteroffensive is stalled — and as Putin appears increasingly emboldened.

Why Ukraine’s Membership Journey Is Rocky

EU officials had said talks couldn’t officially begin until Ukraine addresses multiple issues including corruption, lobbying concerns, and restrictions that might prevent national minorities from studying and reading in their own language. While EU officials say Ukraine has made progress on these issues in recent months, it still has a long way to go.

Every EU country has gradually agreed to support Ukraine’s bid — except Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Putin’s greatest ally within the EU. Orban maintains that Ukraine isn’t ready to even start talking about EU membership. In a surprise move, Orban stepped aside Thursday and abstained from the vote to allow Ukraine’s membership talks to begin.

It is just a beginning, and many steps remain.

Debt crises, waves of migration and Brexit had all contributed to the bloc’s skittishness toward expanding its ranks in recent years. So, too, did the growth of Euro-skeptic political forces in many member countries.

But the urgency created by Russia’s invasion and Ukraine’s request for expedited consideration upended the EU’s go-slow approach to adding new members, and reversed years of ‘’enlargement fatigue.”

Thursday’s decision also has an impact on other would-be members, who feel the EU is showing favoritism.

Other Candidates

Turkey applied for membership in 1987, received candidate status in 1999, and had to wait until 2005 to start talks for actual entry. Only one of more than 30 negotiating “chapters” has been completed in the years since, and the whole process is at a standstill as a result of various disputes.

Several countries in the Balkans meanwhile have become discouraged by the bloc’s failure to live up to its lofty membership promises.

North Macedonia submitted its entry bid in 2004. Even after subsequently changing its name to settle a longstanding dispute with EU member Greece, the country is still waiting for membership talks to begin because Bulgaria, another member, threw up a hurdle related to ethnicity and language.

Bosnia remains plagued by ethnic divisions that make reform an almost impossible challenge. The commission said last month that it should only start membership talks after more progress is made. It expressed concern about the justice system and other rights failures in the Bosnian Serb part of the country.

Serbia and Kosovo refuse to normalize their relations, and stand last in the EU’s line.

 

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne Johnson Pledged $10M for Maui Wildfire Survivors. They Gave Much More.

DON'T MISS

Did Fresno Unified’s Biggest Contractor Not Pay Its Workers? Company Still Gets Millions After Civil Penalty

DON'T MISS

Biden Marks Earth Day by Going After GOP, Announcing $7 Billion in Federal Solar Power Grants

DON'T MISS

Fresno Unified Says It Has No Superintendent Succession Plan Despite HR Leader’s Claim

DON'T MISS

Work Starts on Bullet Train Line From Las Vegas to LA

DON'T MISS

Trustees to Vote on New Fresno High Gym, Bullard Security Fence. Who Were the Low Bidders?

DON'T MISS

Will CA Lawmakers Crack Down on Spending by Utility Companies?

DON'T MISS

Supreme Court Will Take Up the Legal Fight Over Ghost Guns, Firearms Without Serial Numbers

DON'T MISS

Express Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection, Announces Store Closures

DON'T MISS

Will There Be a Third Measure E? What Richard Spencer Says.

UP NEXT

Aid Approval Brings Ukraine Closer to Replenishing Troops Struggling to Hold Front Lines

UP NEXT

The US is Expected to Block Aid to an Israeli Military Unit. What is Leahy Law That It Would Cite?

UP NEXT

Rare House Vote Sees Ukraine, Israel Aid Advance as Democrats Join Republicans

UP NEXT

Iran Fires at Suspected Israeli Drones Near Isfahan Air Base, Nuclear Facility

UP NEXT

US Vetoes Full United Nations Membership for Palestine

UP NEXT

US and UK Issue New Sanctions on Iran in Response to Tehran’s Weekend Attack on Israel

UP NEXT

Netanyahu Dismisses Calls for Restraint, Says Israel Will Decide Iran Attack Response

UP NEXT

Storm Dumps Record Rain and Floods Dubai’s Airport

UP NEXT

Myanmar’s Ousted Leader Suu Kyi Moved From Prison to House Arrest Due to Heat, Military Says

UP NEXT

The Latest | World Leaders Urge Israel Not to Retaliate for the Iranian Drone and Missile Attack

Fresno Unified Says It Has No Superintendent Succession Plan Despite HR Leader’s Claim

6 hours ago

Work Starts on Bullet Train Line From Las Vegas to LA

7 hours ago

Trustees to Vote on New Fresno High Gym, Bullard Security Fence. Who Were the Low Bidders?

Local Education /

8 hours ago

Will CA Lawmakers Crack Down on Spending by Utility Companies?

8 hours ago

Supreme Court Will Take Up the Legal Fight Over Ghost Guns, Firearms Without Serial Numbers

8 hours ago

Express Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection, Announces Store Closures

9 hours ago

Will There Be a Third Measure E? What Richard Spencer Says.

9 hours ago

Melvin and Matzah: Giants Manager Recalls Childhood Passover

10 hours ago

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass Safe After Suspect Breaks Into Official Residence, Police Say

10 hours ago

Newsom Wants to Make It Easier for Arizona Women to Get a California Abortion

10 hours ago

Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne Johnson Pledged $10M for Maui Wildfire Survivors. They Gave Much More.

Lana Vierra misses the swing set at her Lahaina home, which was reduced to ashes in the wildfires that swept through her community last summ...

5 hours ago

5 hours ago

Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne Johnson Pledged $10M for Maui Wildfire Survivors. They Gave Much More.

5 hours ago

Did Fresno Unified’s Biggest Contractor Not Pay Its Workers? Company Still Gets Millions After Civil Penalty

6 hours ago

Biden Marks Earth Day by Going After GOP, Announcing $7 Billion in Federal Solar Power Grants

6 hours ago

Fresno Unified Says It Has No Superintendent Succession Plan Despite HR Leader’s Claim

7 hours ago

Work Starts on Bullet Train Line From Las Vegas to LA

Local Education /
8 hours ago

Trustees to Vote on New Fresno High Gym, Bullard Security Fence. Who Were the Low Bidders?

8 hours ago

Will CA Lawmakers Crack Down on Spending by Utility Companies?

8 hours ago

Supreme Court Will Take Up the Legal Fight Over Ghost Guns, Firearms Without Serial Numbers

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend