European Parliament says Ukraine should be made official candidate for EU membership

Motion with backing of all mainstream political groups calls for push to grant EU candidate status to Ukraine

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Monday 28 February 2022 19:20
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The European Parliament is set to officially throw its support behind making Ukraine an official candidate for membership of the European Union.

A motion published on Monday night with support of all the parliament's mainstream political groups urged the EU to push towards "granting EU candidate status to Ukraine".

The landmark symbolic motion will be voted on by MEPs on Tuesday as part of an emergency Brussels session of the parliament, focusing on the invasion of Ukraine. Its backing by all the main groups means it is certain to pass when it goes to the floor.

The renewed push for membership comes amid an outpouring of solidarity across Europe for the country, which was invaded by Russia last week.

The European Parliament motion calling for a membership push for Ukraine is supported by the centre-right, socialist, liberal, green, conservative and left groups in the parliament. The legislature’s far-right caucus is the only group not to put its name to the motion.

The motion says the parliament "calls on the EU institutions to work towards granting EU candidate status to Ukraine, in line with article 49 TEU and merit-based, and, in the meantime, to continue to work towards integration into the EU Single Market along the lines of the Association Agreement".

It comes after president Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Monday for his country's immediate accession into the EU "via a new special procedure". Support for European Union membership is strong in Ukraine, with most polls showing a substantial majority in favour of it.

On Sunday European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen appeared to personally back Ukraine's accession, stating: “They are one of us and we want them in."

Speaking ahead of the parliament vote senior Spanish liberal Luis Garicano, from the Renew group, said: "President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people have requested EU membership and tomorrow the European Parliament will answer their call. Ukraine deserves to be a free, democratic nation at the heart of our Union."

Becoming an official candidate is legally a necessary step in the long and drawn-out process of joining the European Union. The five candidates currently negotiating membership are North Macedonia, which applied in 2004, Montenegro, which applied in 2008, Albania, which applied in 2009, and Serbia, which applied in 2009. Turkey still has technical candidate status, which it has had since 1987, but negotiations have long since ground to a halt.

One step Ukraine might take is being formally recognised as a “potential candidate” – a status which currently applies to Bosnia and Kosovo.

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