The Associated Trio deserve a clear and tangible path into the European family

The Associated Trio of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia are particularly important for the EU because the people of these countries are fighting for a democratic future, argues Dragoş Tudorache.
Moldovan President Maia Sandu and European Council President Charles Michel in Chisinau, Moldova. Photo: Alamy

By Dragos Tudorache

Dragos Tudorache (RO, RE) is a member of the AFET Committee where he is the standing rapporteur on Moldova

25 May 2022

Lack of action is what gives the world’s dictators the audacity to challenge another state’s sovereignty, be it militarily or with unconventional methods. The European Union has all the right tools at its disposal to act – to react to aggression, but also to work to prevent it. 

The ongoing Russian war of aggression in Ukraine is a cruel wake-up call. It has proven that we need to act and that we need to be proactive in preventing war and standing up to aggression. We can do this by supporting democracy and the rule of law in our neighbourhood and by offering those countries who share our values – and who stay true to these values in testing times – a clear and tangible path into the European family.    

The Associated Trio of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia are particularly important for the EU, not just because of geographic considerations, but also because the people of these countries are, each in their own way, fighting for a democratic future and for our European values. 

This kind of devotion to the values that define the European Union is just as important as the institutional progress these countries have made in their accession bid. 

If we are to prevent war and the horrible atrocities it brings with it from spreading at a dictator’s whim, we need to act strategically on enlargement.  

Countries in the Associated Trio are on the right track to start the process of joining the European Union. Some of them have taken remarkable steps, both bureaucratically and in the spirit of the EU. Progress, in any one of them, should inspire the others to accelerate their own reforms, to strengthen their democratic institutions, to increase the fight against corruption and to make progress towards European integration. 

The accession process is and should be merit-based. And that is precisely why the European Union needs to help, at every step of the way

The accession process is and should be merit-based. And that is precisely why the European Union needs to help, at every step of the way. Progress and determination should be rewarded. The EU needs to bring their partnership with all countries who commit and who remain committed to the European project to the next level and to match their progress step by step.   

Both Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova have shown that they are deeply loyal to their European path and to European values in these times of crisis, and that they want to offer a European future to their citizens.

Ukraine is fighting a war for democracy and for its place in Europe and pays the ultimate price to preserve the integrity of its borders, its right to self-determination and its European choice. 

With thousands of its citizens killed or maimed in a war that we had hoped never to see again, Ukraine remains steadfast in its European commitment. The EU stands by it in sanctioning the Russian aggressor, but it also needs to stand by it in the long term. Otherwise, it might find itself in the same situation again soon.

Though its citizens are not doing it with guns in their hands, Moldova is also fighting, alongside Ukraine, for the European dream and for the values that bring us together. Reaffirming its dedication to European values and its European orientation, with a Russian military threat at the border, is not an easy task. 

Managing a huge wave of refugees, with minimal international support, is not an easy task. Maintaining the pro-European discourse, in the context of a total energy dependence on Russia, is not an easy task. 

And this strong pro-European commitment has not gone by unnoticed. During this month’s plenary session, the European Parliament overwhelmingly called for Moldova to be granted candidate status. The Parliament has decided: the Republic of Moldova belongs in the European Union.

Both Ukraine and Moldova have shown that they are committed to the EU. It is our turn to fight, equally fiercely, for the candidacy of the two countries. Going beyond words, the European Union must operationalise this political message in a concrete manner. 

Both Ukraine and Moldova have shown that they are committed to the EU. It is our turn to fight, equally fiercely, for the candidacy of the two countries

The Associated Trio need EU political support by stepping up high-level dialogues. Such dialogues must also be accompanied by the formalisation and gradual integration of these countries into European institutions. Moreover, looking to a future model of European integration that is more dynamic and aligned with geopolitical realities, the integration must begin now, in chapters and in every sector. 

The Associated Trio need to be encouraged and supported at every step on their path to becoming members of the European Union. We are in a historic moment, which will have historical repercussions. It is time for courageous political vision and bold decisions.

No less important, granting candidate status to both Ukraine and Moldova is also about the message the Union is sending. This is a message with three possible recipients. It is a message to the world that the European Union supports those with whom we share the same values in a concrete, tangible and committed manner. 

It is a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and to all the dictators in the world, that we will remain united in the face of any aggression and will only grow stronger by such actions. Above all, it is also a message to the citizens of these countries, to those who have chosen a European path, that Europe sees them, hears them and will not abandon them.

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