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Why Ukraine (and Moldova) Must Become EU Candidates


In the fourth month of war, European support for Ukraine risks sagging. This includes dropping the ball on Ukraine’s EU membership. Denying candidacy (or offering empty alternatives of potential candidacy) would represent a symbolic debacle for Ukraine and for the EU, and a stunning symbolic win for Putin. Alongside the recognition of full candidacy, equally important is the need to accompany the accession process with concrete benefits in the short term. There is no need to reinvent the wheel here through notions of European political and geopolitical communities. There are concrete formulas like the European Economic Area that have demonstrated to be useful stepping stones to full EU membership. The Ukraine war presents the opportunity to revive enlargement. There are strategic and normative imperatives to seize it. This is true for Ukraine, whose resistance to Russian aggression is inextricably tied to the values on which the EU is founded, but it is true beyond Ukraine as well.