European Parliament overwhelmingly approves EU candidacy status for Ukraine and Moldova

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The European Parliament has approved EU candidacy status for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia in a convincing vote on Thursday.

In total, 529 votes were made in support of the resolution to defer the status on the three countries, while 45 votes were made against the proposal. A further 14 politicians abstained.

Thursday morning’s vote comes four months after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.

Although it shows the widespread support for the countries’ bids to enter the EU waiting room, the ultimate decision rests with European leaders.

Ahead of EU talks in which his country’s candidacy status is likely to be granted, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, who applied for membership at the start of the war, said: “This is like going into the light from the darkness.”

Meanwhile, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission claimed that “history is on the march”, as the bloc prepared for an ambitious expansion.

“I am not just talking about Putin’s war of aggression,” she said in the run-up to the summit. “I am talking about the wind of change that once again blows across our continent. With their applications, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia are telling us that they want change.”

Candidacy status is the start of the slow process of qualifying for EU membership, which can take more than a decade to achieve.

It is not just the EU that is considering whether to expand its membership in response to the threat posed by Russian aggression. Both Finland and Sweden applied in May to join Nato, but their accession is being delayed by Turkey’s opposition.

Speaking earlier this week, the head of the Finnish army said his country was prepared for a Russian attack.

“We have systematically developed our military defence precisely for this type of warfare that is being waged there [in Ukraine], with a massive use of firepower, armoured forces and also air forces,” Gen Timo Kivinen said.

“Ukraine has been a tough bite to chew [for Russia], and so would be Finland,” he added.

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