The European Union executive on Friday advised Ukraine’s candidate for EU membership, a first step on what is expected to be a long road for the war-torn country to join the 27-nation bloc.
The European Commission has presented its proposal to grant Ukraine candidate country status after a quick analysis of the replies to a questionnaire. The Ukrainian government applied for EU membership less than a week after Russia invaded the country.
“Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective,” said committee chair Ursula von der Leyen. “We want them to live with us, the European dream.”
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Leaders of the bloc’s existing members will discuss the recommendation at a summit in Brussels next week. The European Commission’s approval, while a strong sign of solidarity with Ukraine, is likely to take years or even decades to achieve EU membership.
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Launching accession talks with a potential member requires unanimous approval from all member countries. They have expressed differing opinions on how quickly Ukraine can be added to their ranks.
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But Ukraine’s bid took a hit on Thursday when leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania visited the country and pledged to support Kiev to become an official candidate.
To be admitted, potential entrants must demonstrate that they meet EU standards on things like anti-corruption and democratic principles and absorb around 80,000 pages of rules covering everything from trade and immigration to fertilizers and the rule of law.
“Yes, Ukraine deserves a European perspective. It should be welcomed as a candidate country, on the understanding that important work remains to be done,” von der Leyen said on Friday. “The whole process is based on merit. It goes by the book and therefore progress depends entirely on Ukraine.”
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