10 years for Poland, 13 years for Croatia… If Volodymyr Zelensky wants things to move quickly, the facts speak against him. “If we say that Ukraine will join the EU in 6 months, 1 year or 2 years, we are lying. It is not true. It is probably 15 or 20 years, it is too long”, its Also this Sunday confirmed by the new Minister of European Affairs, Clement Bunin. A true statement, as far as some countries, such as North Macedonia, have been officially candidates for 17 years and are still waiting for an answer.. But why is it taking so long and how do you enter the EU?
candidate country status
This status obtained after completing a long form (called the European Questionnaire) is granted unanimously by the members of the union. This is the first formal step in the membership process. It makes no guarantee as to its outcome.
If the application is valid, it opens the way for a pre-subscription period. The country must become familiar with and trained in European law and several political processes through participation in targeted joint programmes. It could benefit from financial support to bring political, economic and institutional pre-reforms up to European standards.
At the same time, various indicators are beginning to be analyzed by the commissions, such as the strength of its economy, respect for the rule of law, etc.
It may take years before negotiations begin at all of these stages.
opening of talks
Once the base is ready, a more thorough review of the application begins. Formally, the candidate country must meet four criteria established by European law.
an economic criterion, The EU is basically – and above all – an economic alliance, the criterion being the most important and the longest to examine. Once again it is a matter of ensuring the resistance of the economy to the face of competition.
A political criterion: It is here a question of scrutinizing the institutions and the political context of the country: democratic process, law, respect for minorities and fundamental liberties etc.
Community Acquires: This is the longest process to be completed. The country must fully adhere to the Community Project and European values, and must prove that it can submit to various European obligations. Politically, this implies that the structure of its institutions should be adapted to the functioning of EU decision-making bodies, such as the Commission or the European Court of Justice, for example. This is to ensure that the transfer of sovereignty and the transfer of European law to national law is legislatively and administratively possible. There are 35 chapters in Acquis Communautaire. The candidate develops his position on each of them as a basis for negotiations. In the case of Turkey, the country gained candidate status in 1999, negotiations began in 2005 before being blocked by France and Germany in 2007. The absence of a common threshold, the non-recognition of the state of Armenia – a member of the European Union – and perceived GDP per capita as too low (and therefore too expensive in aid) were noted at the time as so many barrier points.
Integration Ability: This is the only criterion that directly involves the European Union. This time, we check whether European institutions and community markets are able to accommodate the new candidate.
During this long process, there were many back and forth: commissions, intergovernmental conferences, reports, etc.
Signing of the accession treaty and official accession to the European Union
After the signing of the accession treaty by the candidate and the member states, it must be ratified by all. Normally, it is the national parliament that is called to vote. Some may hold a referendum. This was the case in 1972 for the accession of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, and Norway to the European Community in France (the latter country later refused to participate in the referendum).
extension of processes
For decades, EU general policy has focused on integrating as many countries as possible. From 2019, this objective has been revised and the admission conditions have been tightened. Improvements to the accession process are being studied since 2020, by integrating the principle of “reversibility”, which would block talks on some chapters or allow others to reopen that have already been closed.
Europe in 2022: 27 members, 5 officially candidate countries, 4 pending requests, 3 denials or withdrawals
Five countries are officially candidates: Turkey (since 1999, talks opened in 2005), North Macedonia (negotiations opened in 2005, 2020), Montenegro (negotiations in 2010, 2012), Serbia (negotiations in 2012, 2014). inaugurated) ) and Albania (Inauguration of talks in 2014, 2020).
The latter submitted an application for EU membership on February 28, 2022, four days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This application was followed by the people of Moldova and Georgia on March 3, 2022. Bosnia and Herzegovina applied in 2015 and is awaiting a response from the European Union.
Note: Three countries withdrew their candidacy, Switzerland and Norway following Referendum and Iceland. Morocco’s candidacy was rejected.
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