The European Union (EU) will discuss at a summit this Thursday and Friday the candidate status requested by

Ukraine

to enter the bloc, which has received fifteen countries in the last 30 years and has others waiting in the waiting room.

The acceptance of the candidacies of Ukraine and Moldova, viewed positively last week by the European Commission, requires the unanimity of the member countries and implies the start of long and complicated negotiations.

Several extensions and an exit

The European Union,

created in 1957 by six countries (

Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands) has experienced several enlargements, most of them since 1995.

1973:

Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom join.

1981

: Greece

1986:

Portugal and Spain join the European family

1995:

Austria, Sweden and Finland join the group.

With Finland, the EU reaches the Russian border for the first time.

2004:

10 new accessions, mostly from countries of the former Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe (Cyprus, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and the Czech Republic).

2007

: Bulgaria and Romania.

2013

: Croatia.

The only way out: 2020

: After a referendum in 2016, the United Kingdom becomes the first country to leave the bloc, which currently has 27 members.

Five candidates in the antechamber

Four Western Balkan countries are officially candidates for membership but have been stuck in the waiting room for years:

North Macedonia

(2005),

Montenegro

(2010),

Serbia

(2012) and

Albania

(2014).

"We share the same history (...) as well as the same destiny," said the president of the European Commission,

Ursula von der Leyen

, in October 2021 , assuring that "the EU will not be fully completed without the Western Balkans."

Turkey

, a candidate since 1999, began accession negotiations in 2005, but its relations with Brussels have deteriorated since 2016 due to a crackdown by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following a failed coup.

In 2019, the EU Council said the negotiations were at a "stalemate".

Potential Candidates

Two other former republics of the Federation of Yugoslavia

, Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina,

are considered potential candidates, but do not yet meet the accession criteria.

Georgia

, a former Soviet republic in the Caucasus, may join this group.

The European Commission did not recommend on June 17 the granting of official candidate status.

The EU launched in 2009 an Eastern Partnership with

Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and

Belarus

,

proposing closer economic and political relations in exchange for internal reforms.

Countries like Ukraine and Georgia see this agreement as a first step towards membership.

In June 2021, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, an ally of Moscow, suspended his participation.

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