Commission recommends starting accession negotiations with Ukraine, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and candidate status for Georgia

European Commission @EU_Commission

The European Commission has recently released the 2023 enlargement reports. These reports evaluate the progress of countries seeking membership in the European Union. The report recommends opening accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova and granting candidate status to Georgia. Bosnia and Herzegovina will also receive a recommendation for negotiations if it meets specific criteria.

It’s worth noting that this is the first time that Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia have been included in the assessment. Additionally, the report provides updates on the progress of other candidate countries, including Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Turkey.

The reports also guide the necessary reforms to meet the required criteria for the countries. Any European country that respects EU democratic values and is committed to promoting them can apply for EU membership. To become a member of the EU, the candidate country must meet specific political and economic criteria. Once negotiations on all policy areas are completed, and the EU is prepared for enlargement in absorption capacity, the terms and conditions for accession — including possible safeguard clauses and transitional arrangements — are incorporated into an accession treaty. This treaty needs the approval of the European Parliament and unanimous approval of all EU Member States. All parties, including the EU Member States and the candidate country, sign and ratify the treaty.

EPP: Grant EU membership to Ukraine before the end of this decade

The EPP Group welcomed the European Commission’s recommendation to start EU accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova.

“Without a doubt, Ukraine deserves this. It is not only fighting for itself but also for the safety and security of the whole of Europe. Together, we are much stronger. We will continue to do our utmost to help Ukraine fulfil the requirements as soon as possible”, stresses Rasa Juknevičienė MEP, Vice-Chair of the EPP Group in charge of Foreign Affairs.

The EPP Group has always strongly supported Ukraine’s right to choose its European path and alliances freely. It has led to advancing the Association Agreement and its implementation. The group has also called for EU candidate status for Ukraine and urged the start of accession negotiations as soon as possible this year.

Furthermore, the EPP Group believes that Ukraine should be granted EU membership before the end of this decade, provided that Kyiv implements all necessary reforms. The group also strongly endorses Ukraine’s accession to NATO.

According to Siegfried Mureşan MEP, the decision to start accession negotiations with Moldova is straightforward and welcome. Mureşan, who is the Vice-Chair of the EPP Group and Chair of the EP Delegation for relations with Moldova, emphasised that the first EU-Moldova Intergovernmental Negotiation Conference, where the parties will conduct the talks, should take place as soon as possible following this decision.

“Our safety and stability within the European Union depends on how safe, stable, and better EU-integrated our neighbours are. Hence, the European integration of the Republic of Moldova makes us all stronger and safer. It is important that the negotiations start early next year, before the European elections. It will help to set our first priorities, which in turn can be negotiated at a technical level in the second part of the year,” Mureşan insisted.

The S&Ds welcomed the new EU enlargement momentum

Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine poses an unprecedented threat to peace and security throughout Europe. The S&Ds believe Europe is stronger when united and calls for an active and merit-based enlargement process. The S&Ds encourage candidate countries to make ambitious progress on necessary reforms to demonstrate their readiness to fulfill EU membership obligations as soon as possible.

Additionally, EU internal reforms must accompany the enlargement process to ensure that EU institutions and decision-making are prepared for a Union with more than 30 member states, according to the S&Ds.

“Today we join the European Commission’s recommendation, and call on the member states to take the historic decision and open the accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova. We must show through actions, not just words, that we truly support them. Ukraine’s EU accession and reconstruction process must be closely intertwined and we must make sure that recovery and reconstruction fully respects the principles of democratic participation, social fairness, inclusion, and sustainability,” said Pedro Marques, S&D vice-president responsible for foreign affairs.

“Peace, cooperation and solidarity, democracy, and rule of law are at the heart of the European integration project and constitute the foundations of the European Union. There can be no exemptions from that. As progressives, we also insist that the enlargement process must respect the needs of the people and bring concrete benefits and better opportunities, in particular for the young,” added Marques.

“Enlargement must once again become an EU geopolitical strategic policy, an engine for democracy, peace, freedom and prosperity on our European continent. And to all who fear that the EU is not capable of incorporating more members, I say that it is exactly the enlargement process that will encourage and accelerate the long-awaited and desperately needed EU internal reforms to improve the decision-making,” he concluded

ECR: Enlargement policy is critical for stability and prosperity

The ECR Group strongly welcomed the European Commission’s recommendation to open EU accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova and to grant candidate status to Georgia.

“Enlargement policy remains a key instrument for Europe’s stability and prosperity. It is a strategic geopolitical decision and we cannot afford to repeat mistakes that leave our partners in grey areas,” said ECR Foreign Affairs Coordinator Anna Fotyga MEP.

“We appreciate the progress made by Ukraine and Moldova despite unusual circumstances and conditions. Finally, we cannot close the EU’s doors to Georgia and its people. Georgians fully deserve to be part of the European Union and to be treated in the same way as Ukrainians and Moldovans. Their rightful place is in the EU, despite some worrying recent moves by their government,” Fotyga continued.

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