Ukraine backed for ‘immediate’ EU candidacy status: How long it will take for Kyiv to join

Ukraine: European leaders visit Kyiv

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On Thursday the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, and Romania all publicly threw their support behind Ukraine’s bid to become a member of the European Union (EU). The announcement was made by France President Emmanuel Macron, during a joint news conference in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

Mr Macron said: “All four of us support the status of immediate candidate for membership.

The French President was speaking alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

All four leaders were visiting Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, while Russia’s invasion of the country continues to drag on.

Mr Scholz echoed the comments made by Mr Macron, and added Germany’s “favour of a positive decision” for Ukraine’s membership bid.

As well as Ukraine, all four nations have also said they will support any application made by Moldova to join the bloc.

The comments from Mr Macron and Mr Scholz in particular represented a stark contrast from their previous stance.

Mr Macron said last month it “would take several years indeed, probably several decades”, for Ukraine to become an EU member.

Mr Scholz had also remarked that to allow quick access into the bloc would be unfair to other countries, specifically mentioning several Balkan nations.

It’s not clear how quickly Ukraine would be able to become an EU member even with its new backing.

The European Commission is expected to officially recommend granting Ukraine and Moldova the membership candidacy on Friday, but it is up to EU countries to make a final decision.

Leaders from the bloc will then meet in Brussels next week, on Thursday and Friday, to discuss the issue.

What is clear though is that some conditions would still be attached for either to assume membership.

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Mr Scholz stressed that EU enlargement “is subject to clear criteria that must be met by all candidates”, naming “especially democracy and the rule of law”.

But he added that while membership candidates must reform themselves, there was an equal need for modernisation on the EU’s side.

He said: “The EU needs to prepare itself and modernise its structures and procedures.”

The German Chancellor alluded to issues, such as the requirement for unanimity on key decisions, which has hampered the bloc’s ability to act and make swift decisions.

The application process for becoming an EU member is particularly stringent, and involves candidates needing to demonstrate that they meet certain criteria.

It generally takes countries several years or even decades to complete.

As part of the process candidates must show they respect democracy and the rule of law, as well as having a robust enough economy.

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