Ukraine does not hide its desire to join the European Union. Emmanuel Macron asserts that such adhesion takes years, or even decades. What is it exactly?
This is an urgent request from Ukraine: to be part of the European family. Since the beginning of the war, security has been exacerbated by its Russian neighbour. But at the start of the week, Emmanuel Macron dashed hopes for Ukraine’s rapid integration into the European Union. On the occasion of Europe Day, the French head of state, on his way to Strasbourg, spoke about Ukraine’s desire to join the European Union. According to him, this process could take years or even decades.
Ukrainian authorities hope for the fastest possible integration into the European Union. This is what the Ukrainian president continues to say. Volodymyr Zelensky ran at full speed since the beginning of the Russian offensive. Four days later, he signed an application to join the European Union. Then he filled the official files very quickly, to get candidate status.
The European Commission intends to give its opinion in June. She is studying at full speed the nomination submitted by Ukraine. But this would only be the beginning of a long road toward Ukraine’s eventual integration into the European Union.
• Yes, the EU entry process is long
Is it true that the process of integration into the union takes time … years or even decades, as Emmanuel Macron says?
According to Christian Liekisen, a professor at Sciences Po and a specialist in Europe, it would take ‘several years of course. Several decades? We don’t know. Joining the European Union is not something we can pay in 24 hours or in 3 months’.
Let’s look at the time that elapses between the time a country applies for membership and the time it actually joins the European Union. It took 10 years for Croatia, the last country to join the union.
Before her, the process took 12 years for Romania and Bulgaria. It’s 10 years for Hungary and Poland.
“So far, it has always taken at least 3 years between the moment a country is told to ‘accept your application’ and the moment it returns. Some countries have been candidates for over 10 years and still haven’t returned,” Judge Sylvain Kahn, Associate Professor of History at Institute of Political Science and Specialist in the European Union.
This is the case of Montenegro, a country bordering Croatia. He applied for membership in 2008, 14 years ago, but the country is still not a member of the European Union.
Another example: Turkey submitted its candidacy in 1987. 35 years ago. The country is still not part of the European Union.
• Strict criteria for entering the European Union
If this process is taking too long, it is because you have to meet strict criteria. The life of the candidate country must correspond to the values and ways of political and economic life in the European Union. This assumes complex negotiations on many topics.
Institutions must be stable. The state must respect democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and respect and protect minorities. We also need a working market economy, that is, an economy where there is no corruption. And then you have to accept the commonalities, that is, to adapt your legislation “economically, socially and environmentally to the new standards,” explains Christian Liekisen, a professor at Sciences Po.
“One of the conditions for entering the EU is to accept ‘common gains’, ie saying everything that is already there. Review all the laws to bring them into line with what has already been done in the EU. […] For the countries of Central Europe, returning in the early 2000s, about 300,000 pages had to be changed,” adds the Europe specialist.
It takes time for candidate countries to meet these criteria. And it gets even worse for a country at war. “In general, we are integrating countries that are at peace, that have time to adapt, to make reforms … A country in a war economy is in a state that does not allow it to make all these efforts,” estimates Sylvain Kahn, associate professor of history at Sciences Po. .
• Expedited procedure for Ukraine? the first
Therefore, will it be possible, given the special situation of Ukraine, to establish a rapid procedure for integration into the European Union, as the Ukrainian president would like?
All the experts we interviewed answered “No.”
“Currently, expedited action does not exist,” says Sylvan Khan. “If we believe the positions taken by the 27, we are unlikely to invent one for Ukraine.”
Emmanuel Macron gave a show this week. While waiting for Ukraine to join the European Union, the President is suggesting that you be part of the European political community. It would be a kind of “waiting room” that, prior to joining the European Union, would be the first political entry into the European family.
It’s “a polite way of saying, with sympathy for the Ukrainians: your economy is still very corrupt, with many oligarchs, a standard of living that is 30% of the average standard of living in the European Union … In short, before you could not be a member In the European Union, there is a lot of effort that needs to be made. (…) That is why Emmanuel Macron is imagining an alternative proposal ”, believes EU specialist Sylvain Kahn.
• A place “reserved” for Ukraine? no legal value
But this proposal to integrate some kind of waiting room into the European Union does not quite satisfy the Ukrainians … President Zelensky is asking for more.
“We cannot remain in the constant uncertainty. It is like a table where all family members are invited but you are not given a chair,” the Ukrainian president said in colorful language this week.
In the process, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister requested that Ukraine be allocated a place within the Union.
“We often hear that Ukraine belongs to the European family, and now it is very important for us to reserve this place for Ukraine even if the negotiations have to go on for a long time,” he said on German television.
Reserving a place for Ukraine within the Federation has no legal or legal value. It is a political statement. But this is of significance to the Ukrainians. This will be a strong message for Russia.
“If Russia understands that Europe does not pursue an ambiguous and ambiguous policy regarding the prospects of Ukraine becoming a member of the European Union, it will reject efforts to return Ukraine (to Russia). Because one of the reasons for the outbreak of war is Putin’s conviction that Europe does not need Ukraine,” considers the Minister Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.