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Ukraine has been accepted as a candidate to become an European Union Member State, following a summit in Brussels with the bloc’s leaders on Thursday (23 June). Moldova, which borders Ukraine, has also been made an official candidate. Becoming a member of the EU is a lengthy process and in order to meet the conditions necessary for accession, applicant countries must implement widespread EU rules and regulations.

As our chart shows, 27 countries in Europe are currently EU member states. This number does not include the UK, which left the bloc on 31 January 2020, with the transition period ending 31 December 2020. The seven countries marked in yellow are ‘candidate countries’, which means they are now in the process of ‘transposing’ or integrating EU legislation into national law. These include Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, and the newly added Ukraine and Moldova. Potential candidates, who do not yet fulfill the requirements for EU membership are Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Kosovo and Georgia.

The 27-nation group decided to fast-track Ukraine and Moldova’s candidate status approvals in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Georgia, which applied for the status at around the same time, was denied accession, however, with the European Parliament calling on Heads of State or Government to grant the country candidature “once its government has delivered” on a long list of conditions laid out by the European Commission. According to reports, while Balkans leaders welcomed Ukraine’s progress, they expressed frustration over the stagnation of their own negotiations.

The EU has come a long way since 1957, when it was established with only six founding members. Its expansion has raised criticism that decision making is slowed down by needing an unanimous vote on a number of policy areas which the member states consider to be sensitive. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said the organization must reform its voting rulescalling for a qualified majority rather than total assent when voting on future key issues, to stop individual countries from blocking decisions.

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