- The EU executive publishes a report on the progress made by membership hopefuls
- Ukraine hopes to start EU membership talks
- Moldova believes it is likely to follow suit, although there are questions about Georgia
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission is expected to recommend bringing Ukraine a step closer to joining the bloc this week, a coveted prize for Kiev as weariness has been growing for nearly two years following Russian comments, EU officials said. Invade.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s executive branch, based in Brussels, will publish a report on Wednesday assessing progress made towards membership by EU hopefuls. On a visit to Kiev on Saturday, she praised Ukraine for its progress.
The report and recommendation will inform a key decision at the EU national leaders’ summit in December on whether to begin formal membership negotiations with Kiev.
Such talks take years before candidates meet the comprehensive legal and economic criteria for joining, and the bloc is not prepared to receive a country at war.
However, strengthening Western integration is a top priority for Ukraine, as troops face battle fatigue and concerns mount about the future of vital US military aid.
The Commission said last June that Ukraine had met two out of seven conditions set by the European Union to begin membership talks.
“You have made excellent progress,” von der Leyen said at a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday.
“You are fighting an existential war and at the same time you are deeply reforming your country,” she said, highlighting reforms to Ukraine’s judicial system, curbing oligarchs and tackling money laundering.
She expressed confidence that Ukraine would soon complete the remaining steps – related to fighting corruption and protecting minority rights – and progress on the path to the European Union.
Zelensky said that Kiev would fulfill the conditions, and that the EU’s positive decision would give new impetus to its society and its forces. He said Ukraine’s eventual accession to the European Union would strengthen both.
“There will be no geopolitical gray areas in Europe. We will secure a new basis for growth and development in Ukraine and all European countries. We will guarantee our country and our citizens real economic and social security,” he said.
His comments came at the end of a week in which the Ukrainian supreme leader said the war was heading toward a fight of attrition and the Italian prime minister spoke of international war fatigue during a prank call that was later made public.
In good news for Ukraine, the German Foreign Minister expressed confidence that the European Union will strengthen its bid to join.
Kiev is expected to get the green light this week “on the basis that it” does more to tackle graft and secure minority rights, the latest issue raised by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who prides himself on his contacts with Moscow.
The Commission’s report on Wednesday will cover other countries hoping to join the EU, including Georgia and Moldova.
The latter obtained nine conditions for starting membership talks, including combating organized crime, and can obtain a conditional positive recommendation with its neighbor Ukraine.
The draft report, seen by Reuters before its official publication, said: “Moldova has demonstrated its flexibility and commitment to advancing the EU agenda while taking measures to mitigate the impact of Russia’s war of aggression.”
EU officials say Georgia did not meet the 12 conditions given to it to win candidate state status, which Kiev and Chisinau received last year just months after Russia launched its large-scale invasion of Ukraine in February.
But Tbilisi has Orban’s support and can still move forward on its path to joining the European Union as the bloc struggles for influence with Russia.
Reported by Gabriela Baczynska. Edited by Sharon Singleton
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