Ukraine’s application to join the European Union was advanced on Tuesday after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made an emergency request of the European Parliament due to the Russian invasion of his country.
The representatives present at the Parliament voted 637-13 in favor of accepting Ukraine for membership, with 26 members abstaining from the vote.
The vote marks the beginning of a standard process for accepting new members and is not fast-tracked. Applicants must fulfill numerous requirements to obtain full membership, which has sometimes lasted for years.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that Ukraine still faces a “long path ahead” but added that people who “stand up so bravely” for values shared by EU nations belong “in our European family.”
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that completing membership requirements is “not something that can be completed in a few months.” She added that the process involves “far-reaching transformation.”
Zelenskyy said the EU should now “prove that you are with us in an address issued inside Ukraine.” He said his people have proven their strength and that “we are just like you.” He called on the EU to “not let us go” and establish itself as “truly European.”
Zelenskyy has repeatedly asked EU member nations to admit Ukraine into the alliance and signed an emergency application for membership with his verbal appeal on Monday. He has also asked for membership to NATO and asked for assistance from the military alliance numerous times for help in handling the Russian aggression and invasion.
If Ukraine is granted full membership, the military and defense benefits would be immediate. The members of the EU are bound by a mutual defense agreement that requires all members to provide aid to any member nation that is “the victim of armed aggression.”
Membership would also provide additional economic benefits. As EU citizens, Ukrainians would be allowed free movement through all member nations and guaranteed various rights all EU citizens receive through their home country’s membership.