EU Reversal: Merit-Based Accession for Ukraine

EU Reversal: Merit-Based Accession for Ukraine

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has reversed her stance on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union, emphasizing that aspiring members, including Kiev, must adhere to a “merit-based” accession process.

Caution in Expansion: EU’s Shift on Ukraine’s Accession

Von der Leyen made this announcement during a press conference after a summit of EU leaders in Granada, Spain. The joint declaration adopted during the summit stressed the importance of following clear rules and achieving specified milestones in the accession process. While expressing continued support for Ukraine, the declaration warned against offering shortcuts to potential new members, urging them to intensify reform efforts, particularly in the rule of law.

The document did not provide a specific timeframe for expansion, but European Council President Charles Michel suggested the bloc should be prepared for expansion by 2030. This marks a departure from earlier statements, notably in mid-September, when von der Leyen had indicated that Ukraine’s accession could be completed without amending EU treaties.

The renewed focus on Ukraine’s accession comes in the aftermath of the conflict between Kiev and Moscow in February 2022, with Ukrainian officials pushing for expedited entry into the EU due to perceived roles in defending against a potential Russian invasion.

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Despite such calls, various current and former EU officials, including ex-European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, have cautioned against fast-tracking Ukraine’s admission, citing concerns about corruption at all levels of Ukrainian society.

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