The European Commission will deliver its opinion ahead of the June 23-24 summit, at which EU leaders are expected to approve Ukraine’s candidate status.
The European Commission will meet on Friday to give its swift opinion on Ukraine’s EU bid, a day after the bloc’s most influential leaders visit Kyiv while fighting the Russian invasion.
The opinion will serve as a basis for discussions at next week’s EU summit, where leaders are expected to approve Ukraine’s candidate status under strict conditions, although membership could take years or even decades.
Never before has an opinion been given so quickly on the EU application, which must be approved by all 27 member states.
France, Germany, Italy and Romania are in favor Ukraine receives “immediate” candidate status, French President Emmanuel Macron said during an official visit to Kyiv on Thursday.
Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi arrived in Ukraine by train and were joined by Romanian President Klaus Johannes before meeting with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, who lobbied for support for allies.
“The most important message of our visit is that Italy wants Ukraine in the EU,” Draghi told a joint news conference.
Scholz said Ukraine “belongs to the European family” and that Berlin will continue to send weapons to Kyiv “as long as necessary.”
Zelensky said Ukraine is ready to make efforts to become a member of the EU. He also called on EU countries to help Kyiv meet its “basic defense needs”.
France has announced it will send six Caesar self-propelled howitzers in addition to the 12 already deployed on Ukraine’s eastern front. German Scholz has been there many times criticized for his cautious stance for the supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine before announcing in April that it would do so supply anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine.
Earlier this month, Macron warned that Ukraine’s EU membership would be a long process instead insists on ‘European political community’ which would be open to non-EU countries, such as Ukraine and the United Kingdom, which wish to contribute to European security.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, on her second trip to Kyiv since the start of Russia’s attack on Saturday, reminded Zelensky that much remains to be done.
“You have done a lot to strengthen the rule of law, but there is still a need for reforms that need to be implemented, such as the fight against corruption,” she told a joint news conference with Ukraine’s leader.
Accession to the EU is a process that usually takes years and requires strict criteria to be met – from economic stability to eradicating corruption to respect for human rights.
Despite reservations among some member states, EU leaders are expected to approve Ukraine’s candidate status at a summit on June 23-24, albeit under strict conditions.
Zelensky told von der Leyen during his visit that “the whole of Europe is a target for Russia, and Ukraine is only the first stage of this aggression.”
“Therefore, a positive EU response to Ukraine’s application for membership can be a positive response to the question of whether the European project has a future at all,” he said.