Speaking in Brussels, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “The Commission recommends that Ukraine be granted candidate status.
“In the eyes of the Commission, Ukraine has clearly demonstrated its aspiration and its commitment to live up to European values and standards.”
Van der Leyen concluded his statement: “We all know that the Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective. We want them to live the European dream with us.”
The commission also recommended candidate status for Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova, but not for Georgia until further notice. The leaders of the 27 EU member states will meet at the summit next week to discuss its views.
During a joint press conference in Kiev on Thursday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholes, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, the three main political leaders of the European Union, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky said it was tantamount to Russia’s attack on his country. Europe.
He added that the best way to prove “our common and strong position” is to support Ukrainian integration into the EU, adding that its status as a candidate for EU membership could “historically increase independence in Europe and become one of the major European decisions.”
Zhelensky said Ukraine was ready to work to become a full member of the EU: “We understand that the path to the EU is indeed a path and not a step. But this path must begin, and we are ready to work. They have the right to go down this path. “
Macron later said that granting EU candidate status to Ukraine was a result of Russia’s invasion. He spoke in an interview with CNN subsidiary PFMTV on Friday on a train departing from Ukraine.
“Ukraine should not be a candidate in general,” he said following his visit to Kiev.
“It’s a sign of hope, a message from Ukraine that they belong to a European family,” he said.
“We have countries that are very lenient,” Macron said, adding that most parts of Western Europe were supportive of the plan.
The French leader added that the question of Ukraine’s candidacy for the EU would be decided at the next European Council summit on Thursday and Friday.
“The path to joining the EU is long,” he added.
The Prime Minister of Ukraine Denis Schmidt thanked the Election Commission for this decision. “Thanks to @vonderleyen for this result!” He said via Twitter. “It will speed up the whole process [Ukrainian] Integration [European] Effectively assists in the recovery of #Ukraine by domestic market and EU standards. “
The Kremlin said Moscow needed “more focus” on development. “We are all aware of the discussions on intensifying in Europe and strengthening the security elements of the European Union. Therefore, there are various changes that we are noticing,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a daily statement to reporters.
What happens next?
Ukraine will now work to meet the Copenhagen criteria, which must meet an opaque three requirements for the EU to be satisfied. They focus on whether or not a free market economy operates in that country, and whether the institutions of that country are qualified to uphold European values such as the interpretation of human rights and the rule of law of the European Union and the democracy that operates within the country, including.
There are also real concerns that Ukraine is far from meeting Copenhagen criteria at any time. According to Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Investigation Index, Ukraine ranks 122nd out of 180 countries. In comparison, Russia ranks 136th.
If the country is deemed to have met these criteria, it could begin negotiations on 35 chapters of the EU, the last three of which will return to parts of the Copenhagen criteria.
Then, if agreed by the leaders of the EU member states, it must be approved by the EU Parliament and the legislative branches of government of each member state.
Ukraine formally applied to join the European Union on February 28, four days after Russia began its invasion. At the time, Zhelensky said, “Ukraine must urgently accept a new procedure … our goal is to be equal to all Europeans. I firmly believe that we deserve it. I believe it is possible.”
Before the war began, Zhelensky said that Ukraine also wanted to join NATO. However, a few months later, he cooled the idea after it appeared that the coalition was not ready to accept Kiev at any time.
CNN’s Joseph Attaman, Camille Knight, Anna Chernova and Niamh Kennedy contributed to the report.