The European Commission has recommended Ukraine candidate status for EU membership.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday that the EU executive believes Ukraine should be granted the status on condition that it continues to implement reforms to bring it into line with EU rules bring. These reforms include the rule of law, the fight against corruption and the judicial system.
“Ukraine has clearly demonstrated the country’s aspirations and determination to live up to European values and standards,” von der Leyen told reporters, noting that the European Commission is “very carefully” considering the merits of her request have.
Kyiv applied for membership shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.
Although a significant step, the Commission’s opinion now has to be endorsed by each of the 27 EU member states at a summit of heads of state and government to be held next Thursday and Friday.
Some countries, including Denmark, the Netherlands and Portugal, have raised concerns about the move and discussions are not expected to be straightforward.
Ukraine’s bid received a significant boost on Thursday with the joint visit of French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi to Kyiv, where the EU’s three most powerful leaders reiterated their desire to join the bloc.
But even if Ukraine is granted candidate status by the 27 countries next week, it still faces a long and arduous process before actually becoming a member of the EU.
The latest country to join the EU, Croatia, took nine years to join after being granted candidate status in 2004, while North Macedonia has been an official candidate country since 2005. Albania, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey are also candidate countries.
Von der Leyen also said the commission recommended Moldova candidate status on similar terms to Ukraine. However, she said that Georgia’s status as a candidate country should only be granted after it has taken further steps to meet EU requirements.
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