Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Ukraine and the neighbouring Moldova have applied for EU membership on Thursday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for granting the country EU membership “via a new special procedure,” with several MEPs and EC President Ursula von der Leyen expressing their support for the plan, France24 reports.
Earlier this week, the EP joined in the push to grant candidate status to Ukraine, but stressed that the country should receive the status “on merit.”
However, this support is only symbolic as the accession process is complex, takes years and requires the agreement of all EU member states.
Moldovan President Maia Sandu signed the application on Thursday, stressing that “it took 30 years for Moldova to reach maturity, but today the country is ready to take responsibility for its own future.”
“We want to live in peace, prosperity, be part of the free world,” she noted and continued “while some decisions take time, others must be made quickly and decisively, and taking advantage of the opportunities that come with a changing world.”
She announced that Moldova will send the application to Brussels in the coming days.
Also on Thursday, Georgia submitted a formal application to join the bloc, according to Financial Times reporting.
Sensitive topic in EU
The EU is not united when it comes to enlargement, with some Eastern European member states stressing that expanding the bloc would stabilise the region and other EU members expressing concern that new applicants do not have democratic and rule of law credentials to maintain unity.
The new applications will encourage existing applicants to heighten their demands, especially those who have been waiting for years for the start of accession negotiations.
According to an EU official, enlargement of the bloc is an “extremely sensitive” topic and warned against making rash decisions “that will create new parameters and have strong implications for the union.”
EC officials pointed out that fast-tracking new applications would risk alienating applicants from the Western Balkans – Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.
They noted that Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are potential candidates in the region.
MEP Pedro Marques noted “we have a number of countries already in the process of accession for a number of years and we have frustrated the ambitions of some of these countries to which we have promised the possibility to come to the EU — particularly North Macedonia and Albania.”