BRUSSELS, June 23. /TASS/. EU leaders on Thursday warned for the first time ever that all future decisions regarding the accession of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia will take into account the bloc’s capacity to absorb new members, according to a statement that followed an EU summit on Thursday.
The summit backed granting Ukraine and Moldova the status of candidates to join the EU while recognizing Georgia’s European perspective and delaying a decision on its candidacy.
"The progress of each country towards the European Union will depend on its own merit in meeting the Copenhagen criteria, taking into consideration the EU’s capacity to absorb new members," the statement said.
Before, the process of joining the EU was considered irreversible following the granting of the candidate status but in practice it has dragged on for years for Turkey and Western Balkans. Now, there’s a legitimate reason to delay taking on new members even if they formally meet all the criteria.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday warned that Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia will now have to work hard and undertake important reforms to make progress on the path of joining the bloc. She said the candidate status was a symbol of hope for the countries in these troubled times.
On June 17, the European Commission recommended that the EU summit grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova. The next stage for these countries is to start formal accession talks, which hinges on meeting some requirements by the EU, including fighting corruption and a deoligarchization of the economy.
Before the summit in Brussels, the EU held a meeting with Western Balkans leaders. The sides were unable to agree on resuming accession talks with either North Macedonia or Albania. The Albanian prime minister said at a news conference following the meeting that he was hopeful the country would join the bloc by the end of this century.