After Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky applied to the European Union and subsequently asked the EU to urgently admit it into the organization through a new, special procedure, the European Parliament has now accepted Ukraine’s application and will support its candidacy for membership. A special admission procedure has begun to have Ukraine admitted into the bloc.

Note that the European Parliament said it has accepted the application and will support the application. However, the power of deciding on said application rests within the EU member states themselves.

“We appeal to the European Union for Ukraine’s immediate accession under a new special procedure. We are grateful to partners for being with us. But our goal is to be with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be equal to. I am confident that it is fair. I am confident have we deserved it. I am confident that all this is possible,” he said in a video message addressed to the EU.

Zelensky has been heard by the European Parliament quite literally and figuratively. He had addressed the European Union Parliament during an emergency session specifically held because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Prove that you are with us,” said the Ukrainian President, who has now become world-renowned due to his unrelenting support to his people. “Do prove that you are with us. Do prove that you will not let us go. Do prove that you are indeed Europeans, and then life will win over death, and light will win over darkness,” said Zelensky through an interpreter who was heard fighting through tears while translating the President’s speech.

Zelensky then received a standing ovation from the European Parliament, many of which were wearing blue and yellow clothing and accessories and T-shirts bearing the #standwithUkraine text.

Ukrainian President Zelensky receiving a standing ovation during the EU meeting (NEXTA via Republic World). Source:
Ukrainian President Zelensky receiving a standing ovation during the EU meeting (NEXTA via Republic World)

In a statement published by the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, on March 1, Ukraine had been lifted to a candidate for accession as the parliament recognized Ukraine’s European perspective.

“We recognize the European perspective of Ukraine. And, as the resolution [planned to be adopted by the European Parliament] clearly states, we welcome the application of the President of Ukraine on the status of a candidate, and we will work on this goal. Because we want to, and we have to meet the future together,” said Metsola.

However, it also stated that the European Parliament does not have explicit authority to make any decisions regarding the status of said candidates and its process of joining the bloc. Note that the power rests with the EU member states with regards to the membership.

Long Road of Application and Membership

Ukraine, along with its leaders, is aware of the complex and intricate policies and mechanisms needed to be followed in order to join the EU. Admission into the bloc is not simple and admittedly complex due to rules and regulations. For example, a country may only apply to become members when it satisfies certain conditions such as a stable democracy, free-market economy, accepting EU laws, and adopting the Euro.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky receiving a standing ovation from EU parliament members, March 1 (CNN). Source:
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky receiving a standing ovation from EU parliament members, March 1 (EBS+/CNN)

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock echoed these statements stating that membership cannot be done in a couple of months and takes years to completely integrate into the EU as countries are required to adjust to the EU’s methods, regulations, and policy areas. More so, it needs to ensure that the country in question can compete in the EU and use the Euro to its maximum potential.

While the process remains long, they now have the support of the European Parliament along with 8 central and eastern European nations to assist them diplomatically with their admission into the EU. Later, Romania, Moldova, Hungary, and Georgia also backed Ukraine’s membership.

“We, the Presidents of the EU member states: the Republic of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Poland, the Slovak Republic, and the Republic of Slovenia strongly believe that Ukraine deserves receiving an immediate EU accession perspective,” said the endorsement letter.

Meanwhile, support and sanctions from European countries have continually been done by the EU in an effort to stand with Ukraine. It can be remembered that the EU sanctioned various major Russian financial institutions by banning them from SWIFT in an effort to further hurt Russia’s capacity to engage in business. In line with this, the European Parliament had also urged EU leaders to impose tougher sanctions on Russian elites, oligarchs, and government officials close to Putin, ban both Russia and Belarus entirely from SWIFT and restrict oil and gas imports from the Kremlin.

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was extremely supportive of Ukraine in her speech, reiterating that the EU supports their fight against the Russians. “In these days, independent Ukraine is facing its darkest hour. At the same time, the Ukrainian people are holding up the torch of freedom for all of us. They are showing immense courage. They are defending their lives. But they are also fighting for universal values, and they are willing to die for them,” she praised.

In the war it is fighting against Russia, EU membership would confer certain advantages to Ukraine, like its population being able to move freely between other EU countries, a common currency, trade that is tariff-free, and the ability to cross borders quickly. Membership in the EU is also short cut around its long stalled request to join NATO as EU countries have their own agreement about coming to the defence of other member countries under attack.

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