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The European Union made Ukraine a candidate for EU membership

BRUSSELS – The European Union has agreed to make Ukraine a candidate for EU membership, setting up a potentially multi-year process that could pull the constrained country further away from Russian influence and tie it down. The country is closer to the West.

Ukraine applied to join the EU less than a week after Moscow’s invasion on February 24.

The decision by the leaders of the 27-nation bloc to grant Ukraine candidacy on Thursday was unusually swift for the EU. But the war and Ukraine’s request for a quick review show that its causes are urgent.

The EU also granted candidate status to Moldova, which borders Ukraine.

Becoming a member can take years or even decades. Countries must meet a range of economic and political conditions, including a commitment to the rule of law and other democratic principles.

Ukraine will have to curb government corruption and introduce other reforms.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. The AP’s previous story follows.

BRUSSELS (AP) – European Union leaders on Thursday decided to make Ukraine a candidate for membership in the 27-nation bloc, the first step in a potentially multi-year process. pull the stuck nation away from Russia’s influence and bind it more closely to the West.

Several unnamed diplomats on the eve of the EU summit in Brussels, predict Ukraine will receive the unanimous approval needed for its candidacy. Ukraine filed the application just days after Russia invaded on February 24.

“It will strengthen Ukraine, it will strengthen Europe. It is a decision for freedom and democracy and puts us on the right side of history,” European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said ahead of the announcement.

A decision in Ukraine’s favor on Thursday would be unusually quick for the EU. But Europe’s biggest war since World War Two and Ukraine’s demand for a quick review have hampered the bloc’s slow approach to expansion.

The European Parliament approved Ukraine’s bidding hours before the summit began, passing a resolution calling on EU governments to “act without delay” and “carry out their historic responsibilities.” “.

EU nations have united in support of Ukraine in the fight against Russian aggression with money and weapons, through unprecedented economic sanctions against the Kremlin.

The European Union candidacy does not allow automatic accession to the bloc and does not provide any immediate security guarantees.

However, after a state becomes a member, this provision is set forth in an EU treaty article that states that if a member becomes the victim of armed aggression, the EU countries Others are obliged to assist in any way they can.

However, the main benefit of EU membership is economic, as it allows access to a market of 450 million consumers with the free movement of labour, goods, services and capital.

Ukraine has long wanted to join NATO, but the military alliance has been reluctant to make an invitation, in part because of government corruption, shortcomings in the country’s defense establishment and bordering borders. dispute.

Before the war, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO, which he condemned for its eastward expansion on Russia’s flank. But earlier this month, he appeared unconcerned by Ukraine’s determination to move closer to the EU, saying it was not a military treaty and therefore “we have no objection”.

To win membership, Ukraine must meet a series of detailed political and economic conditions, including a commitment to the rule of law and other democratic principles. This process can take years, maybe decades.

For example, Turkey applied for accession in 1987, received candidacy in 1999, and had to wait until 2005 to begin negotiations for actual accession. Only one of the more than 30 “chapters” of negotiations has been completed in the years since, and the whole process is coming to a standstill due to various disputes between the EU and Turkey.

Similarly, some Balkan countries have been trying to join the EU for years without success.

European officials say Ukraine has adopted about 70% of EU rules and standards, but they also point to corruption and the need for sweeping political and economic reforms in the country.

“Considerable efforts will be needed, especially in the fight against corruption and the establishment of an effective rule of law,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said. “But I believe that it is the (post-war) reconstruction of Ukraine that will provide an opportunity to take important steps forward.”

EU leaders on Thursday also debated granting candidate status to Moldova, a small, non-NATO country that borders Ukraine.

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Follow AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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