Ukraine and Moldova a step closer to EU membership

The European Commission recommends ‘candidate status’ for Ukraine and Moldova, a decision that will have to be endorsed next week by EU leaders

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

The European Commission has recommended “candidate status” for Ukraine and Moldova, Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday.

The decision was announced after a meeting of the college of commissioners and will have to be approved by EU leaders at a summit next week.

The announcement comes a day after the leaders of Germany, Italy, France and Romania travelled to Kyiv with a pledge to support Ukraine’s EU membership bid.

Von der Leyen addressed the press conference wearing a yellow jacket and a blue shirt to symbolise the colours of Ukraine. She said Ukraine will have to carry out a number of reforms.

“Ukraine has clearly demonstrated the country’s aspiration and the country’s determination to live up to European values and standards. Ukraine has already implemented roughly 70% of EU rules, norms and standards.Yet, important work remains to be done, on the rule of law, oligarchs, anti-corruption and fundamental rights,” she said.

Von der Leyen said the process to EU membership is merits-based and progress “depends entirely on Ukraine”.

The commission also recommended that Moldova be granted candidate status, on the understanding that the country will carry out reforms.

“Moldova is on a real pro-reform, anti-corruption and European path. It still has a long way to go. But we believe it has the potential to live up to the criteria,” Von der Leyen said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the news and tweeted: “It’s the first step on the EU membership path that will certainly bring our victory closer. Grateful to Ursula von der Leyen and each EU member for a historic decision.”

Zelenskyy said he expected a positive result from the European Council next week.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation across Ukraine and particularly in the eastern Donbas region is “extremely alarming and continues to deteriorate”, the United Nations said on Friday. 

Russia has concentrated its invading forces in the east and south of Ukraine, trying to encircle key cities.

Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February but its first attempt to control the whole of the country was thwarted by stiff Ukrainian resistance and logistical problems.

Ukraine’s armed forces have been propped up by arms supplied by Western countries with Zelenskyy repeatedly calling for more weapons to be made available.

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