European Union The EU gives the green light to the accession negotiations of Ukraine and Moldova

The heads of State and Government of the European Union agreed this Thursday to begin accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova

European Union The EU gives the green light to the accession negotiations of Ukraine and Moldova

The heads of State and Government of the European Union agreed this Thursday to begin accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova. A very important, existential decision for the Eastern neighbors who are in the Russian target, but also for the EU itself, which by opening the door and reaching out is also committed to unprecedented internal reform in the coming years. Yesterday's agreement was a political agreement, since there are still technical issues to be resolved and for both countries to complete pending reforms before March so that there is a clear negotiating mandate. But it is a milestone, an opportunity and an enormous challenge. What was impossible 24 months ago has become inevitable in this new geopolitical era.

Unexpectedly and in record time, Member States have managed to force Viktor Orban's hand. The Hungarian leader arrived in Brussels in the morning saying that it would not happen, that there was "no possibility", that the country is not prepared, that it does not meet the requirements, that a possible entry into the Union threatens its national interests. And yet, a few hours later, a way was found, strange, unusual, controversial and that could end up before the European Justice at some point: inviting him to leave the room while the decision was being made.

As has happened again and again the last two years, Viktor Orban barks, barks and barks but not death. Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine he has obstructed all decisions of the European Union to sanction Moscow, to help Ukraine economically, politically or militarily. To build ties and bridges. He has threatened, he has threatened to block and even, as he has done with increasing tone in recent weeks, he has promised to veto the start of accession negotiations with Ukraine. And yet, when push comes to shove, when decisions are made at the highest level in the rooms of the European Council, and not when he is before the cameras of his country, things change. And he gives in. This morning, Michel organized a pre-summit breakfast with him, Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz and Ursula Von der Leyen. And with that, and the 10.2 billion in European funds released yesterday, the pulse softened.

"The European Council has decided to start accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova. We have also granted candidate status to Georgia. And the EU will start negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina once the necessary degree of compliance with the membership criteria is reached, Therefore, it has invited the European Commission to present a report before March with a view to making such a decision. A clear sign of hope for its people and for our continent," celebrated the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.

"This is a victory for Ukraine. A victory for all of Europe. A victory that motivates, inspires and strengthens," celebrated Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. "Today we feel the warm embrace of Europe. Thank you for your support and faith in our journey. We are committed to the hard work necessary to become a member of the EU," agreed the Prime Minister of Moldova, Maia Sandu.

Orban did not object because he was not in the room when the decision was made. He was not expelled, or anything like that. It was a mutually agreed upon decision, at German behest, to square the circle. "We have been meeting for eight hours. Hungary's position is clear: Ukraine is not ready to start accession negotiations, it is complete nonsense, irrational and the wrong decision in these circumstances. On the other hand, 26 countries insist that it is what needs to be done. That's why we have decided that if they want to do it, they do it their own way. We don't want to be part of that bad decision," he wrote on his Facebook profile. If you are part of the decision, that is, you do not veto a decision, "then you would have to keep your mouth shut," the Belgian De Croo immediately told reporters.

In Europe things are never done like this, but this is also a completely extraordinary situation. The EU wants to sell unanimity, but it does not have it, not to 27. Orban's message is that he continues to oppose, that he has not changed his mind, but since 26 insisted, he has stepped aside. Politically delicate but legally even more so, because although theoretically it has only been a surprise for its national public, since although at that time accession was expressly talked about, where everything will be included is in the document of conclusions that will be approved unanimously. But with many issues still open, there remain more than big doubts and there may be surprises.

The Summit, however, has only just begun and the question of money remains, equally complicated but with a difference: here the Hungarian veto can be circumvented. It would be a less elegant solution, more difficult, but possible. The EU is renegotiating its Multiannual Financial Framework. Within this very tough battle (the Commission initially requested an additional 66 billion in direct contributions from the countries and the figure has already been reduced to 22,500) a package of 50 billion for Ukraine is included in the next four years, between transfers (17 billion ) and loans (33,000). Orban is also opposed, as are some others who are taking advantage of the troubled waters to try to get a cut. But if Budapest did not allow it to be done through the Budget, it could be done at the level of the other 26, using other mechanisms. The sources consulted are optimistic and believe that it is very close.