EU Accession Prospects of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia — first responses to the conditions set by the European Commission

Michael Emerson, Tinatin Akhvlediani, Denis Cenusa, Veronika Movchan, Artem Remizov

In the week following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 all three East European states associated with the EU – Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia – submitted applications to accede to the EU. In response the European Commission published in June ‘Opinions’, setting out in each case conditions that should be met for these applications to advance on the path towards membership. This paper reports on the first half year of the work undertaken by the three states to meet these conditions. All three states have set in motion actions to meet the conditions, which largely concern fundamental political and rule of law criteria for membership. In all cases there is much work in progress underway, with some conditions already met, and others at an earlier stage. For both Ukraine and Moldova it is possible to see large fulfillment of the conditions in the course of 2023. For Georgia there are still some more basic political obstacles to be overcome. The Commission is due to publish in October 2023 comprehensive evaluations of the preparedness of each of the three states, and in the cases that the conditions are largely met, the EU should as a next step open up the formal accession negotiation process. It is also recommended that by that time the EU will have reformed the accession process itself, notably by switching to qualified majority voting on the details of the procedures, and better still adopting a staged accession process that would assure structured incentives for overcoming the blockages in the present system as seen in the Western Balkans.