President Volodymyr Zelensky said it was ‘the first step on the EU membership path that’ll certainly bring our victory closer’
Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union was given a considerable boost on Friday as the European Commission recommended the country be a candidate for membership.
It is the first step in a lengthy process to secure membership and comes a day after French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian prime minister Mario Draghi and Romanian president Klaus Iohannis vowed to back Kyiv’s candidacy on a visit to Ukraine’s capital.
“The Commission recommends… Ukraine is given candidate status,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference, dressed in Ukraine‘s national colours of a yellow jacket and blue shirt.
“Ukraine has clearly demonstrated the country’s aspirations and the country’s determination to live up to European values and standards," sy het gese.
Moldova was also given the same status.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the decision was the “first step on the EU membership path” and would “certainly bring our victory closer”.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s minister of foreign affairs, welcomed the announcement by the European Commission. He said on Twitter: “European history in the making. We welcome @EU_Commission’s positive opinion concluding that Ukraine should be granted EU candidate status at the EU summit #EUCO next week.
“This will be a vivid proof of European leadership and a huge boost for Ukraine’s further transformations.”
President Zelensky has previously urged the EU to allow Ukraine to become a member under a special procedure and said the trading bloc would be stronger with them as members.
The decision by the European Commission will now pave the way for EU government leaders to sign off on it at a summit next Thursday and Friday in Brussels.
In their first visit to Kyiv since Russia invaded, Mr Macron, Mnr Scholz, Mr Draghi and Mr Iohannis said Ukraine belonged in the “European family”.
However the path towards membership is expected to take years and will require Mr Zelensky and his officials to implement deep reforms aimed at tackling endemic corruption. These were previously noted by Ms von der Leyen on a visit to Kyiv on June 11.
“Ja, Ukraine deserves a European perspective,” Ms von der Leyen said on Friday.
“It should be welcomed as a candidate country, on the understanding that important work remains to be done. The entire process is merits-based. It goes by the book and therefore, progress depends entirely on Ukraine.”
According to watchdog Transparency International, Ukraine is perceived as one of the world’s most corrupt countries, ingedeel 122 uit 180 state.
The Kremlin said on Friday that it was closely following Ukraine’s efforts to become a member of the European Union, especially in the light of increased defence cooperation within the bloc.
Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the issue “requires our heightened attention, because we are all aware of the intensification of discussions in Europe on the subject of strengthening the defence component of the EU“.
“There are various transformations that we are observing in the most careful way,” he told a telephone briefing with journalists.