The President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, suggested that parliamentarians from Moldova and Ukraine could be invited to join the assembly as “observers” within the European Parliament while the countries await official membership in the European Union, according to Politico.
“Make no mistake: Politically speaking, if a country is looking towards Europe, then Europe should open its doors wide,” Metsola stated.
The center-right politician suggested that a range of benefits could be offered to countries on the brink of accession, from advantages in the single market to participation in the Erasmus youth program.
“We can go even further, having observer members in this Parliament – these are things that matter to a population. It depends on what will happen in December,” she said.
When asked about the risk of giving false hopes that Ukraine could join the EU sooner than is realistic, Metsola said, “Every country has its own path,” mentioning that her own country, Malta, took a decade to join. She also praised Ukraine’s rapid progress.
Regarding potential observer members of the European Parliament, she said she would need to consult the Parliament’s political groups and consider making the same offer to the six candidate countries in the Western Balkans that are also waiting to join the EU.
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Observer MEPs for Ukraine and Moldova would not have voting rights, they would be nominated rather than elected, but they would have seats within the institution, which is set to increase from 705 to 720 members after the European elections in June 2024.
“We will have to see when this will happen, at what point they become eligible for it,” Metsola said.
Last year, the European Union officially recognized Moldova and Ukraine as candidate countries, with this decision coming in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
European Union leaders are scheduled to make an official decision on opening accession negotiations for Ukraine and Moldova at a summit scheduled for December. This decision will be made following an examination of a report by the European Commission, which will provide a detailed update on the progress and status of the two countries waiting to become full members of the European Union.