The European Comission believes that Ukraine is almost ready to begin EU accession negotiations. After a few months ago, in record time, the 27 granted the country already Moldavia the status of “candidates”, the team of Ursula von der Leyen today made public the long-awaited evaluation report on the progress made by Kiev and Chisinau. And his conclusion is that they are not ready, but very close. And that is why he recommends to the heads of State and Government, who will have to make a decision unanimously in December, that they begin talks, as long as the Government of Volodymyr Zelensky and Maria Sandu manage to complete the pending and promised reforms on minorities, anti-corruption, ‘de-oligarchization’ of their economy and lobbying.
“Enlargement is a vital policy for the European Union. Completing our Union is the call of history, the natural horizon of our Union and has a strong economic and geopolitical logic. Past enlargements have demonstrated enormous benefits for both the candidate countries and the EU. “We all win,” said the president of the Commission, who also recommends that Georgia be officially considered a candidate, once it also completes another series of pending reforms.
This report is a necessary step, but not sufficient. The European Comission It is the technical body, which has been in constant contact with the candidates’ public administrations almost since the beginning of the Russian invasion. The applicants have done a tremendous job, especially Ukraine, capable of negotiating and trying to legislate in the midst of an existential war, bombings and forced transfers of officials. Huge steps have been taken. But the general feeling is also that we are dealing with an essentially political issue and it is obvious that in other circumstances this conditional green light would have been impossible. Because of the speed, but also because of the depth. The Commission defends that its work is serious, that it would not give approval if it did not think that the country was prepared or practically ready. And they reiterate that this evaluation recommends, with conditions, the start of negotiations, not accession, something that should take years, at least under normal conditions. Except because there is nothing normal about the process.
The EU enlargement process, which for decades was completely stopped and which seemed impossible to resurrect, is now a geopolitical priority, a necessity, “a driving force for long-term stability”, as approved this Wednesday by the College of Commissioners. Things are rarely black or white, but the 27 are beginning to be clear that in this situation there are no grays: o Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia (which is far behind, but which Brussels also recommends giving candidate status) end up entering the Union or will end up under the Russian umbrella, and not by chance.
Von der Leyen recommends starting negotiations, but that there be no mandate until pending legislation has been approved. The decision now corresponds to the heads of State and Government, who will rule on it in the European Council December, the last of the year and which is already loaded with important, delicate and complicated issues, which allows us to venture a very long and tense summit. The start of accession negotiations requires unanimity, and Viktor Orban, the main critic, to put it mildly, of Ukraine has been putting a spanner in the works for more than a year. He has been approving the sanctions to Moscow reluctantly and after delaying each package. And he has been approving the economic and military aid packages. But it has blocked the last and most important aid worth 50,000 million euros, not only because of its rivalry with Ukraine (over an issue about the Magyar minority in the country that goes back decades) but as part of a negotiation with Brussels to unlock the billions of euros in Hungarian funds that are frozen due to its problems with the rule of law.