Support for Ukraine’s accession to the European Union intensified on Thursday after a high-ranking meeting with Vladimir Zelensky in Kyiv. The leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania were on hand to promise support for the country’s military efforts as heavy fighting continues in the eastern Donbass region. It comes ahead of next week’s European Commission meeting, which will decide on Ukraine’s recommendation for “EU candidate status” – the country’s first step in joining the bloc.
How it works: EU accession is a process that usually takes years or even decades, but Zelenski hopes to speed up negotiations. States must meet strict criteria, from economic stability and a functioning market economy to eradicating corruption and respecting human rights. Candidate status is granted by the European Council, followed by extensive discussions on the reforms needed before a candidate can be considered for membership by all 27 EU governments.
“The path of an EU candidate is a path, not a point. This is a path that will have to see profound reforms in Ukrainian society,” said Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. “Every day, the Ukrainian people defend the values of democracy and freedom that are at the heart of the European project. We cannot postpone this process. We need to create a community that unites Kyiv with Rome, Paris, Berlin and everyone else. countries sharing this project. “
Go deeper: The accession of new Member States to the European Union has slowed significantly in recent years. Croatia did not admit a new state in 2013, and the United Kingdom became the only Member State to leave the bloc in January 2020. Although the reforms needed to bring it into line with EU standards are likely to take some time, the candidate’s approval The status is intended to send a strong message to Moscow that the bloc has no intention of yielding to Vladimir Putin’s demands.