Riga, 6 June 2022 (TDI): The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs met the German Minister for Europe, Anna Lührmann, and discussed Latvia’s position concerning the need to grant Ukraine EU candidate country status.

In their discussions about Ukraine’s EU candidacy, the Minister of Latvia highlighted that they also discussed rule of law, and EU enlargement in the Western Balkans together with the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The German Minister also highlighted their unity, solidarity, and their like-mindedness in relation to the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s EU candidacy and Latvia’s support

After four days of the Russian invasion, Ukraine applied for EU membership. The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky made an address to the European Parliament. As a result, he requested the implementation of a fast-track procedure to join the EU.

Accordingly, Zelensky signed Ukraine’s application for membership officially. Consequently, his Georgian and Moldovan counterparts followed suit as they submitted their countries’ applications as well to join the EU on 3 March.

This year, the President of Latvia, Egils Levits requested the EU to grant Ukraine candidate status to join the EU.

The President of Latvia and seven other eastern European presidents signed a letter that was in favor of Ukraine’s immediate candidacy.

Thereby, Levits stated that bypassing usual bureaucratic procedures in order to offer candidacy to Ukraine prior to discussions on reforms needed for entry.

Previously, Levits emphasized the need to have discussions prior to the EU leaders’ meeting that happened on March 10th, despite Ukraine’s application sparking divisions.

“In a situation where the state of Ukraine is in danger, the EU should send a strong message to Ukrainians that Ukraine belongs to Europe,” said the President.

The European Commission President, Ursula von Leyen stated in March that Ukraine belongs to the European family.

EU enlargement

However, it has been noted that since 1995 the process of EU enlargement has become longer systematically with every new wave of enlargement.

Specifically, resulting from an effect of the increasingly large quantity of reforms required for a candidate state undergo before meeting European political and economic standards.

Candidate states have to adopt all European legislation referred to as the acquis communautaire. It includes over 60 years of both common European rules and laws.

For instance, completing the accession process that led to the 1995 enlargement of Austria, Finland, and Sweden, took 1,431 days. That is, it took almost four years and it was the shortest negotiation process in the history of EU enlargements.

In addition, the 2004-2007 enlargement to Eastern European countries took over ten years to be completed.

More to this, numerous countries have applied to join the EU even though it is a long process requiring a lot of preparation.

Criteria for being an EU candidate country

In applying for EU membership, a country must be European as well as respect the EU’s democratic values.

Also, a country has to have stable institutions that guarantee democracy and the rule of law. Also, have a functioning market economy, and be able to take on and carry out the obligations of EU membership.

A country that meets basic political, economic, and reform criteria can become an official candidate.

Formal negotiations can begin on 35 chapters covering various policy areas with the EU. After completing negotiations and reforms, an Accession Treaty is finalized. Thus, all existing EU member states ratify it and the country itself before joining the EU.

Furthermore, MEPs debate, as well as vote on annual progress reports for every country. Above all, the Parliament’s approval is also required before a country can join the EU.

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