Ukraine receives major support from the European Commission in its intention to join the European Union

(CNN) – Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union got a major boost on Friday morning after the bloc’s executive director said he believed the country should be considered officially as a candidate after the Russian invasion.

In Brussels, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the commission recommends “granting Ukraine candidate status”. Of course, with the understanding that the country will implement a series of incremental reforms,” ​​he said.

“From the Commission’s point of view, Ukraine has clearly demonstrated the country’s aspiration and determination to live up to European values ​​and standards.”

Leaders of the 27 member states of the European Union will meet at a summit next week to discuss the commission’s opinion. Even if member states agree Ukraine is a candidate country – which is far from certain – the EU accession process is complex and takes, on average, less than five years to complete, according to the UK’s Changing Europe think tank.

“We all know that Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective,” von der Leyen added. “We want them to live the European dream with us.”

During a joint press conference in Kyiv on Thursday with the three main political leaders of the European Union, German Chancellor, Olaf Schulz; French President Emmanuel Macron; Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s attack on his country amounted to an attack on all of Europe.

The best way to demonstrate our “common and strong position”, he added, is by supporting Ukraine’s EU integration, adding that its status as a candidate for EU accession “could historically magnify freedom in Europe and become one of the major European decisions of the first third of the 21st century.”

Zelensky stated that Ukraine is ready to work towards becoming a full member of the European Union: “We understand that the path to the European Union is really a path and not a single step. But this path must begin, and we are ready to work towards our country becoming a full member of the European Union, And the Ukrainians have already earned the right to embark on this path.”

The war in Ukraine affects gas supplies in Europe 1:23

Macron later said that the prospect of Ukraine being granted EU candidate status was a result of the Russian invasion. He was speaking in an interview Friday with CNN affiliate BFMTV on a train leaving Ukraine.

“Ukraine should not normally be a candidate, we do it because of the war and because we think it is good,” he said after visiting Kiev.

“It’s a sign of hope, it’s a message for Ukraine to say it belongs to the European family,” he said.

Although Macron claimed that most Western European countries supported the plan, he made it clear that “there are countries that are more conservative”.

The French leader added that the issue of Ukraine’s candidacy to join the European Union will be decided at the European Council summit next Thursday and Friday.

“It is a long way to enter the European Union,” he added.

He also said that Moldova could also become a candidate for EU membership. The French president visited the eastern European country on Wednesday as part of a two-day visit to Moldova and Romania before his unannounced trip to Ukraine.

What is happening now regarding the possible candidacy of Ukraine?

Ukraine will now strive to meet the Copenhagen Criteria, a vague triad of requirements that the EU must consider a candidate country to meet in order to begin accession negotiations. They focus on whether the country has a functioning free market economy, whether the state’s institutions are sufficient to support European values ​​such as human rights and the European Union’s interpretation of the rule of law, and whether the country has a functioning inclusive democracy.

There is also real concern that Ukraine is still a long way from meeting the Copenhagen criteria in the near future. According to Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, Ukraine ranks 122nd in its list of 180 countries. By comparison, Russia ranks 136th.

Once a country is judged to meet these criteria, it will be able to start the EU’s 35 negotiating chapters, the last three of which deal with some areas of the Copenhagen criteria.

Then, when the leaders of the EU member states reach an agreement, it must be ratified in the EU Parliament and the legislative branches of the governments of each member state.
Joseph Attaman and Camille Knight of CNN in Paris contributed to this report.

Leave a Comment