What comes next for EU candidates Ukraine and Moldova?

After months of urging from Kyiv the big moment has come: Ukraine and Moldova were granted EU candidate status at the bloc's summit on Thursday. Georgia's candidacy was put off until a later date and there was no progress at all in talks with representatives of the Western Balkan states. Europe's press looks at whether Brussels is serious about EU enlargement.

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Gość Niedzielny (PL) /

Decision comes months too late

With all the dithering an opportunity has been missed, Gość Niedzielny writes:

“The European Council's decision cost nothing. And the Council is all the more negligent for not having made this gesture in March when Russian aggression was in its initial stages. At the time, it could have had a much greater impact in boosting moral support for a nation fighting an aggressor. Today, the EU is ashamedly making up for these omissions.”

La Libre Belgique (BE) /

Don't dally over alliances for the future

The admission of candidate countries must go ahead at all costs, La Libre Belgique warns:

“This decision must not stop at symbolism. It is not a question of the EU giving guarantees to Kyiv and Chişinău while muttering under it's breath that in any event they'll be waiting at the door for decades to come. It's no longer enough to advance the applications of the Balkan countries one at a time so that they are made to wait for years. The EU must wake up and bring the countries with whom it wants to share its future closer. Otherwise it will turn into a moribund club with little or no appeal.”

El País (ES) /

Heal the rifts in the divided EU

El País hopes this will send a positive signal to Hungary and Poland:

“The adjustment efforts that Ukraine must undertake to move closer to the EU model could weaken the illiberal forces that dominate the central-eastern scene. Successful westernisation beyond Poland and Hungary could also restore the lost motivation to 'imitate'. ... In this process, Ukraine for its part can make two enormous contributions to the EU: it can exemplify the value of fighting for peace and democracy, and it can be a lever that reconciles the two halves of the continent.”

Krónika (RO) /

Brussels won't want to keep its promise

There will be nothing but empty promises for Ukraine, Krónika predicts:

“Ukraine is like the sickly little boy to whom his father has held out the prospect of a great luxury car. The father knows, of course, that by the time the child gets his driving licence he'll have long forgotten this generous offer. ... The problem-ridden country of 40 million people would be far too big a chunk for the EU to manage. Consequently, Ukraine's EU membership will come to nothing. In a few years' time Paris, Berlin and Brussels will come up with all kinds of excuses for why this large post-Soviet country is being kept out of Europe's joint decision-making.”

La Stampa (IT) /

A good incentive for Georgia

A large majority of Georgians want to join the EU, and the fact that their country still hasn't been granted accession candidate status comes as a blow to many. But this setback could also boost motivation, La Stampa hopes:

“Georgia has rightly been promised a European perspective, but the backtracking the government in Tbilisi has done in terms of democratic reforms in recent years could not go unnoticed. Paradoxically, it is precisely Brussels' 'not now' policy towards Georgia that could spur on those who are waving European flags in Tbilisi and thus demonstrating both in favour of the EU and implicitly against their own government.”