Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych recently took his country’s plea to join the European Union to a worldwide platform. On August 25, he wrote an opinion piece that was published in the Wall Street Journal. The article, which focused on the economic and political history of the country, advocated for Ukraine’s admission into the European Union.

Unfortunately for President Yanukovych, Ukraine is more than one persuasive article away from joining the European Union. The Treaty on European Union (TEU) does not foreclose the idea of enlargement. Membership in the European Union results from a process that requires the participation of Member States, the European Commission, and prospective Member States. In fact, the TEU specifies conditions , known as the “Copenhagen Criteria” and a brief outline of the required steps a country must take in order to be considered for membership.

Potential candidates are those countries that have not yet met the Copenhagen Criteria. Countries classified as candidates are in the process of ensuring their laws and regulations align with those of the European Union. As the European Commission identifies countries that are nearing the requirements for entry, the countries are reclassified from “potential candidates” to “candidate countries.”

At this time, Ukraine is not listed as a potential candidate. This means that the European Commission is not persuaded Ukraine exhibits the fundamental values held by the citizens of the European Union. The methodical approach to enlargement ensures that there is mutual respect for the overarching values protected by the European Union, which can be found in Article 6 of the TEU. President Yanukovych needs to first assuage any concerns that the governmental values of Ukraine fail to align with those espoused in the TEU before he can expect to represent Ukraine on the European Council.

The European Commission has a thorough website that explains the process of application for EU membership in more detail.


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