During a summit of the European Union (EU) leaders in Granada, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated that aspiring countries must adhere to the merit-based accession process and fulfill the milestones set by the bloc’s rules. The declaration adopted during the summit emphasized that potential new members, including Ukraine, will not be given any shortcuts in their path to EU membership.
Von der Leyen emphasized that the accession process is merit-based and must follow clear rules and milestones. The joint declaration reiterated the EU’s commitment to supporting Ukraine and its people, but also stressed the need for aspiring members to intensify their reform efforts, particularly in the area of the rule of law. The declaration further emphasized that the EU itself needs to undertake necessary internal reforms.
The statement made by von der Leyen and the joint declaration reflect the EU’s position that there will be no special treatment for aspiring members. This reinforces the notion that countries seeking EU membership must fulfill the necessary requirements and demonstrate progress in key areas such as the rule of law.
While the declaration did not provide a specific timeframe for expansion, European Council President Charles Michel mentioned that the EU should be prepared for expansion by 2030. Michel emphasized the need to stop procrastinating in this regard, indicating the EU’s intention to move forward with the accession process.
It is worth noting that von der Leyen’s recent statement differs from her earlier statement in mid-September, where she suggested that Ukraine could potentially join the EU without amending the Treaties of the European Union. This earlier statement reflected a more optimistic view of Ukraine’s accession prospects.
The issue of Ukraine’s membership has been a longstanding topic of discussion among pro-Western Ukrainian politicians. However, progress has been limited prior to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia in 2022. The ongoing hostilities have seemingly reignited the process, with Ukrainian officials advocating for expedited membership in light of their perceived role in defending the EU from a potential Russian invasion.
Despite these calls for fast-tracking Ukraine’s accession, several current and former EU officials have cautioned against such a move. Some have argued that Ukraine’s admission could potentially harm the EU due to concerns over corruption in the country. Former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, in particular, highlighted the pervasive corruption in Ukraine as a major obstacle to its EU membership.
In conclusion, the statement by Ursula von der Leyen, along with the joint declaration adopted during the EU summit, highlight the EU’s commitment to a merit-based accession process for aspiring members. While the specific timeframe for expansion remains undefined, the EU is emphasizing the need for aspiring members to undertake necessary reforms and meet the criteria set by the bloc. The ongoing debate surrounding Ukraine’s accession underscores the complexities and challenges associated with expanding the EU.