John Thys Agence France-Presse The European Commission has gave the green light on Wednesday to the opening of negotiations for the accession of Ukraine and Moldova to the European Union, a gesture eagerly awaited by Ukraine, which has been fighting against the Russian army for almost two years .
Ukraine at war and Moldova took a new step on Wednesday before their possible entry into the European Union, which the two countries and part of the 27 consider essential in the face of Moscow's ambitions on the continent.
The European Commission gave the green light at midday to the opening of EU accession negotiations with these two countries, a gesture eagerly awaited by Ukraine, which has been fighting for almost two years against 'Russian army.
“Today is a historic day,” declared the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announcing to the press this favorable opinion, which will be submitted to the decision of the 27 EU countries at a leaders' summit in mid-December in Brussels.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the “good” decision taken by the Commission. “Our state must be in the EU. Ukrainians deserve it,” he stressed.
In June 2022, the EU granted Ukraine candidate status, in a highly symbolic gesture a few months after the start of the Russian invasion, as well as neighboring Moldova.
To move on to the next stage, therefore the opening of accession negotiations, the European Commission had defined seven reference criteria for kyiv. These are conditions to be met in particular in terms of the fight against widespread corruption and judicial reforms.
“Ukraine continues to face enormous difficulties and the tragedy caused by the war in “Russia's aggression,” stressed von der Leyen, adding that despite these difficulties, Ukraine had continued to reform “in depth” with a view to joining the EU.
< p>Ukraine was impatiently awaiting this green light from Brussels at a time when its counter-offensive is stalling and the war between Israel and Hamas is diverting the attention of its allies.
End of the road
But this positive recommendation is still far from being the end of the road for Ukraine, and for the other candidate countries affected by this report on the enlargement of the European Commission delivered public Wednesday.
If the 27 endorse the Commission's opinion in December, Ukraine will then join a list of other European countries that have entered into negotiations with the EU, some of which, like Turkey, have been waiting for many years. Negotiations between the EU and Ankara were opened in 2005, but they have been frozen since June 2018.
The expansion of the European family towards the East is nevertheless considered by several countries as a fundamental element of security in Europe in the face of Russian appetites.
“A stronger, bigger and united European Union is the geopolitical response to Russia's war of aggression” in Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Wednesday.
Moldova, small Romanian-speaking country among the poorest in Europe which regularly denounces attempts to destabilize Russia, also obtained from Brussels a favorable opinion for the opening of accession negotiations.
This country “has undertaken significant reforms despite constant efforts to destabilize its democracy”, stressed Ms. von der Leyen.
Georgia and the Balkans
< p>Georgia, partly occupied by the Russian army since 2008, has not been forgotten and obtains, under conditions, the status of candidate country for membership, which it had been refused in 2022.
“I rejoice with the Georgian people and welcome the positive recommendation of the European Commission,” immediately reacted the pro-Western Georgian President, Salomé Zourabichvili.
Tbilisi will, however, have to undertake “important reforms”, corresponding to “the aspirations of the overwhelming majority of its citizens to join the EU”, warned the President of the Commission.
Finally, the executive European Union also made a gesture towards Bosnia, a candidate country for accession, by showing itself in favor of opening accession negotiations with this Balkan country, still deeply divided, once certain progress has been made. been achieved.
“We have opened the door wide”, but results are now expected, underlined the President of the European Commission.
Whatever the decision of the 27, the process for all will be arduous.
A possible entry into the EU of Ukraine, a country of more than 40 million inhabitants, and an agricultural power, will pose many difficulties, starting with financing.
The EU will also have to reform to be able to work with more countries, say several member states, including France and Germany.