Ukraine’s request to be granted expedited entry into the European Union as part of a larger push to bind the nation closer to its Western friends in reaction to Russia’s invasion was received on Friday by European Union leaders gathering in Paris with a gesture of support but nothing more.
In a letter to European leaders earlier this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded for the country’s admission to the EU, a process that would ordinarily take about a decade and would include extensive changes and talks.
At the moment, there are five countries waiting to complete their E.U. membership applications, including Albania and North Macedonia, which are considered to be on the verge of joining; and Turkey, which has been a candidate since 1999 but is unlikely to complete the process due to political differences.
“With us, the European Union will be stronger,” Mr. Zelensky told members of the European Parliament earlier this month, through a video connection from his bunker in the Ukraine. Show that you are with us and that you are not going to let us go.”
With just a few exceptions, European Union nations are willing to provide their assistance to Ukraine, but they are wary of making false promises about the country’s chances for membership. It will most likely take many years to bring Ukraine’s institutions up to the standards of the European Union, and it will take much longer to implement the reforms necessary to prepare the nation for membership in the common market.
With the European Union, Ukraine has already signed a comprehensive association agreement, which allows for a high degree of joint commerce, free travel, and economic integration, as well as financial assistance and support.
When asked about the possibility of fast-track membership, Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands said, “There is no such thing as fast-track membership.”