Ukraine, ravaged by war, is one step closer to joining the European Union

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Ukraine should be welcomed as a candidate country.

Kenzo Tribuyar Afp | Getty Images

Ukraine is one step closer to joining the European Union.

The European Commission on Friday recommended that the war-torn country become a candidate to join the bloc – albeit with the understanding that it is carrying out a number of important reforms.

The opinion of the commission, the EU’s executive, comes ahead of high-level discussions in Brussels, Belgium, on Ukraine’s potential membership.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Ukraine should be welcomed as a candidate country – given the legal term, which means that a nation has officially begun its accession to full membership..

Dressed in a yellow blazer on a blue shirt to represent the colors of Ukraine, von der Leyen told a news conference that the commission has a clear message for Kyiv. “And this, yes, Ukraine deserves [the] European perspective. Yes, Ukraine should be welcomed as a candidate country. “

“This is in the understanding that good work has been done, but important work remains to be done,” von der Leyen said.

She added that the whole process is “merit-based”.

“So follow the book and therefore progress depends entirely on Ukraine. It is Ukraine that holds it in its hands and what could be better to shape your own future,” she said.

A long and difficult journey

This is the first step in what is expected to be a long and difficult road for Ukraine. Even with the Commission’s support, it will probably be years before Member States have the opportunity to approve Kyiv’s accession – largely because Ukraine will have to implement economic and political reforms to comply with European rules.

The country is also fighting Russia without seeing an end to the conflict some warn it could turn into a “war of attrition.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the EU’s proposal to grant Ukraine candidate status and said it would help Kyiv defeat Russia.

“This is the first step on the road to EU membership, which will surely bring our Victory closer. Thanks to
[von der Leyen] and every member of the EC for a historic decision, “Zelenski said on Twitter.

Zelenski said he expects EU government leaders to approve the proposal next week.

Russia, meanwhile, has responded that the decision to grant Ukraine EU candidate status requires “increased attention” from the Kremlin.

Ukraine has asked to join the 27-nation European Union just days after Russia’s invasion in February. 24.

The leaders of Germany, France, Italy and Romania, who visited Kyiv in solidarity on Thursday, all voiced support for Ukraine’s EU accession. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he had a “clear message: Ukraine belongs to the European family”.

However, there are a number of other issues that need to be considered; not least the fact that several other nations also want to join.

What about Moldova and Georgia?

The Commission also welcomes the former Soviet Republic of Moldova as a candidate for EU membership.

However, Georgia, which borders Russia and was partially attacked by the Kremlin in 2008, has been tasked with fulfilling certain conditions first.

Moldova “is on a truly pro-reform, anti-corruption and European path,” von der Layen said.

“Georgia now needs to unite politically in order to work out a clear path towards structural reform … a path that specifically identifies the necessary reforms, involves civil society and enjoys broad political support,” she added.

Asked if there was a time frame for Georgia to be granted candidate status, von der Leyen said: “This is a huge step forward for Georgia to gain a European perspective. This is a great achievement – and the door is wide open. in Georgia now to take the necessary steps to move forward, to unite. “

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