EU leaders have granted Ukraine and Moldova candidate status, marking a key point on the countries’ journeys to possible EU membership.
The decision came on Thursday evening during a two-day European Council meeting in Brussels.
Both countries applied for membership in the weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine. Georgia also applied for membership but didn’t receive candidate status on Thursday.
Typically, the path to joining the EU is long and byzantine, taking years. But at least in the initial stages, EU leaders are moving with record speed when it comes to the bids from Ukraine and Moldova — partly an effort to show solidarity with the countries facing the most immediate threats from Moscow.
“A historic moment,” European Council President Charles Michel tweeted right after the decision. “Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU.”
Still, it may be years before either country ultimately joins the EU, as Brussels works with each to implement the myriad reforms required for membership.