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 ‘Opinions’ in June, 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 largely concerning the 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 that the majority of conditions will be met 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 case 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 the EU reform by that time 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.
This paper was initially published on the 3dcftas webpage on 2 February 2023.