New majority Orthodox countries invited to join the EU
We welcome the EC's decision to recommend to the EU Council to start accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova, as well as to grant candidate country status to Georgia, all three countries with a majority Orthodox population.
The 2023 Enlargement Package, adopted by the European Commission on 8 November 2023, offers detailed evaluations of the progress and state of play in ten countries on their journey towards EU accession: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Türkiye, and, for the first time, Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia.
In a noteworthy move, the Commission has recommended that the European Council opens accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova. This decision marks a landmark moment in the aspirations of both countries to join the European Union. Following older discussions, Georgia has been granted the status of a candidate country, on the condition that it accomplishes several necessary steps.
The Commission has also recommended the opening of accession to Bosnia and Herzegovina, once the country achieves the required degree of compliance with EU membership criteria. This recommendation emphasises the need for Bosnia and Herzegovina to intensify its efforts to meet the key priorities outlined in the Commission's Opinion on its EU membership application.
This development highlights the ongoing expansion of the European Union and the opportunities for countries in the region to strengthen their ties with the EU. It signals a promising future for Ukraine and Moldova in particular, as they take a significant step toward European integration.
The future accession of several majority Orthodox countries represents an important and positive evolution of the process of European integration because it brings a counterbalancing influence in the Union, more stability and cooperation between the member states and an incentive to promote reforms regarding the European institutions. It also contributes to a more religiously and culturally diverse Europe, enhancing the overall European identity and contributing to a more inclusive and tolerant Union. This view has been partially expressed by Ursula von der Leyen in her statement on the 2023 Enlargement Package and the new Growth Plan for the Western Balkans: ‘’enlargement is a vital policy for the European Union. (…) Completing our Union is the call of history, it is the natural horizon of the European Union. The citizens of countries that want to join are Europeans – just like those of today's Union. Because we all know that geography, history, and common values bind us. So, completing our Union also has a strong economic and geopolitical logic.’’