European Union leaders granted Ukraine and Moldova the coveted status of official candidate to join their 27-nation club. However, it could take Ukraine and Moldova more than a decade to eventually join the bloc.



  • New official candidates to join EU
      • Six years after Britons voted to leave the EU, Ukraine and its neighbour Moldova were granted candidate status.
      • Georgia, another ex-Soviet state, was told it would get the same once it has fulfilled more conditions.
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted this step
      • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted Kyiv to formally apply for candidate status, and the EU to fast-track its approval.
      • EU acted with uncharacteristic speed and unity to pull Ukraine further away from Russia’s influence and bind it more closely to the West.
  • Signal to Moscow
      • The decision to officially accept these countries as candidates is a symbol of the EU’s intention to reach deep into the former Soviet Union.
      • This is also a signal to Moscow that Ukraine, and other countries from the former Soviet Union, cannot belong to the Russian spheres of influence.


What is the process of joining the E.U.?

  • First stage
      • The country is given the status of an official candidate. Ukraine completed the first stage of application.
      • The application in this regard is submitted to the European Council, which asks the European Commission to assess the country’s ability to meet those criteria.
      • Following this, if the Commission agrees that the applicant country meets the ‘Copenhagen criteria’, the European Council then agrees upon a negotiating mandate.
  • Second stage
      • The formal membership negotiations with the candidate begin.
      • This involves the adoption of EU law into national law, and the implementation of judicial, administrative, economic and other reforms, called the accession criteria.
  • Third stage
      • Once the negotiations are completed and the candidate has met all the accession criteria, they can join the EU.
      • Membership is put to a final vote of the existing member states.


Requirements for joining the E.U.

  • Obligation
      • Article 49 of the EU treaties state that any European nations that seek to join the bloc, must be committed to respecting and promoting the EU’s fundamental values set out in Article 2.
      • These include respect for freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, etc.
  • Consideration
      • After the application is received, the EU members judge the suitability of the nation on the basis of these terms.
  • Specific criteria
      • The European Council meeting in Copenhagen in 1993 set out more specific criteria called the Copenhagen Criteria.
      • Copenhagen Criteria includes a free-market economy, a stable democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the implementation of all EU rules and regulations in all areas, including the Euro.


About the European Union

  • EU is a unique economic and political union between 27 EU countries that together cover much of the continent.
  • The predecessor of the EU was created in the aftermath of the Second World War.
      • The first steps were to foster economic cooperation by creating the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1958.
      • Initially economic cooperation was ensured between six countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
      • Later, 22 other members joined and a huge single market (also known as the ‘internal’ market) has been created.
      • On 31st January, 2020 the United Kingdom left the European Union.
  • What began as a purely economic union has evolved into an organisation spanning policy areas, from climate, environment and health to external relations and security, justice and migration.