Ukraine’s EU Candidacy Opposed by Denmark, the Netherlands

Denmark and the Netherlands have significant reservations about granting Kyiv candidate status and may block this step toward EU membership next week when the European Commission will likely recommend that Ukraine be granted candidate status.

Bloomberg reported on Thursday that Danish officials are reportedly concerned about Ukraine’s track record on corruption and the rule of law.

Ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world and the most corrupt in Europe, Ukraine’s government has been vehemently criticized for outlawing the political opposition and discriminating against Russian speakers since the beginning of the current conflict with Russia.

Denmark’s diplomatic note has said that before it can be considered a candidate, Kyiv, which is basically at a very early stage regarding its readiness to join the EU, must fundamentally improve its institutional framework and legislative regarding the rule of law, human rights, protection of minorities, democracy as well as the anti-corruption policies.

While a majority of the EU’s member states are willing to support Ukraine’s candidate status, some, notably the Netherlands, are strongly opposing the move.

Echoing the caution by a number of EU countries that Ukraine may wait many years for full EU membership, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said last month in the Hague that even the first step of candidate status for Kyiv is very far away.

He warned against the ‘fast track’ to the membership for Ukraine many Eastern European states and Ireland have supported, pointing out that it would be unfair to aspirant countries such as Turkey – which applied for EU membership in 1987 and was granted candidate status in 1999 – and Montenegro, which have remained candidates for decades.

After Kyiv applied in February to join the EU, EC President Ursula von der Leyen informed in April that a formal decision on bestowing Kyiv a candidate status could be made in a matter of weeks.

However, the process may not be as streamlined as von de Leyen has promised since the EU leaders are expected to discuss the matter in Brussels one week after the EC’s expected opinion on Ukraine’s candidacy next week.

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