EU approves candidacy status for Ukraine, Moldova
Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia are now official EU candidates.
Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia were unanimously accepted as EU candidates by the European Parliament on Thursday.
In all, 529 votes were cast in favor of deferring the status of the three nations, while 45 votes were cast against the plan. 14 more MPs voted no.
The vote occurs 4 months after the war in Ukraine began.
While it demonstrates popular support for the nations' petitions to join the EU's waiting list, the final decision is in the hands of European leaders.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who filed for membership at the outset of the war, stated ahead of EU negotiations that his country's candidacy status is likely to be granted: "This is like entering the light from darkness."
The EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen called it "history on the march," detailing what she called "the winds of change that are once again blowing across our continent. With their requests, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia let us know that they want change.”
Candidacy status is what enables a nation to ultimately reach membership in the EU, which can take more than a decade.
The European Council states that each country's path toward ultimate European Union membership will be determined by its own ability to achieve the so-called Copenhagen criteria, taking into account the EU's capacity to absorb new members.
Concerning current candidates in the Western Balkans, the European Council emphasized the significance of additional reforms, particularly in the rule of law, particularly those pertaining to the independence and functioning of the judiciary, as well as the fight against corruption. Moldova formally sought EU membership on March 3.
The Council also states that it "calls on partners to guarantee the rights and equal treatment of persons belonging to minorities."