The European Union (EU) is preparing for a potential enlargement that could see up to ten new members join the bloc, according to EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell. Speaking after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Toledo, Spain, Borrell stated that Ukraine and the Western Balkan nations are the primary candidates for EU accession, despite the ongoing conflict between Kiev and Moscow. Borrell believes that the war in Ukraine has actually accelerated the enlargement process.
Borrell emphasized the importance of having a political target or horizon to give a political impetus to the process. He stated that although the potential candidates would still need to fulfill all necessary requirements, setting a time target would help mobilize the energies of both the EU and the candidate countries. Borrell did not name any potential candidates other than Ukraine but stressed that the EU must be prepared for an enlargement that could add ten more members to the bloc.
This announcement follows reports earlier in the week that Brussels was preparing for a potential enlargement before 2030. European Council President Charles Michel was said to be planning to propose admitting new member states in the near future. Timing was reportedly seen as a crucial factor in Michel’s plan.
The next discussion on expansion is expected to take place in early October at a summit in Granada, Spain. In recent years, the EU has officially accepted Ukraine, Moldova, and Albania as candidate countries, with discussions ongoing about allowing up to eight other nations to join in the foreseeable future.
Ukraine was granted candidate status in 2022 amid its conflict with Russia. Ukrainian officials have been pushing for accession talks to begin as soon as possible, preferably before the end of 2023. However, some EU members, including France, have expressed the view that Ukraine should not expect a fast track to membership.
In February, Brussels stated that Ukraine was still at an early stage of preparation for the implementation of EU policies in many key areas. This suggests that there is still work to be done before Ukraine can fully meet the requirements for EU membership.
Overall, the EU’s openness to future enlargement reflects its commitment to expanding its sphere of influence and promoting stability and prosperity in the region. Ukraine and the Western Balkan nations, in particular, are seen as key partners in achieving these goals. The EU’s continued support for their eventual membership demonstrates its willingness to invest in the long-term development and success of these nations.