On 8 April, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, delivered the EU membership questionnaire to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to make the starting point for the EU's response to the membership of Ukraine.
Volodymyr Zelensky subsequently stated on April 18 that Ukraine had formally submitted the completed questionnaire. In response, Ursula von der Leyen said there is going to be a speedier start of the process of Ukraine's accession to the EU.
Ukraine has made its accession to the EU a long-term goal. Zelensky already expressed the intention to join the EU in 2020, “Ukrainians want to live in European Ukraine.”. On 28 February, after Russia invaded Ukraine, Zelensky officially applied for EU membership.
However, Russia's continued resistance to Ukraine's European Union membership has produced several roadblocks. The EU had previously been evasive on the issue of Ukraine's accession to the EU due to the pressure from Russia. However, with the Russian invasion, the EU not only imposed sanctions on Russia but also provided funding for Ukraine and has decided the grand temporary protection for Ukrainian refugees. At the same time, the EU has made it clear that it will speed up the process of Ukraine's accession to the EU.
European Commission President Von der Leyen said that the Commission would try to give its opinion on the Ukrainian accession to the EU within a few weeks instead of a few years. The deputy head of Zelensky’s office anticipated that Ukraine could start candidate status likely in June during the meeting of the European Council.
However, besides meeting the values in Article 2 of TEU and Copenhagen Criteria, the admission into the EU still has a long process. The process of agreement between the applicant state and member states and the ratification by all the contracting states normally take a long time or even years. For instance, after the accession of Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, the most recent member Croatia joined the EU 10 years after applying.
Until now, the European Council only stated in a statement in mid-March that Ukraine’s qualification process would not be delayed, but there was no clear statement relating to whether Ukraine would be able to join more efficiently.
Meanwhile, there were Albania, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey already being the candidate countries. It would lead to some dispute if only Ukraine will be able to speed up.
If the EU merely pushes through with the application, it would be favorable to Ukraine. As an article published by the Atlantic Council mentioned, it would be “a bold, courageous, and meaningful political statement.”
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