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European Union leaders set to grant Ukraine candidate status after invasion

European Union leaders on Thursday are set to make Ukraine a candidate for becoming a member of the 27-nation bloc, a primary step in an extended and unpredictable journey towards full membership that would take a few years to navigate.

Making Ukraine a contender now appears to be a performed deal after nationwide leaders had been initially divided on how rapidly to embrace the war-torn nation’s request to turn into an EU member, which the Ukrainian authorities submitted only some days after Russia invaded its neighbor on Feb. 24.

In accordance to a number of diplomats who spoke on situation of anonymity earlier than a leaders’ summit in Brussels, Ukraine will obtain the unanimous approval required for candidate status and the launch of eligibility negotiations.

“This is a decisive moment for the European Union,” European Council President Charles Michel, the EU summit chair, mentioned, describing the query of Ukraine’s candidacy “a geopolitical choice that we will make today.”

European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen, proper, speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron, middle, and European Council President Charles Michel prior to a gaggle photograph with Western Balkan leaders at an EU summit in Brussels.John Thys, Pool Photograph through AP

Members of the European Parliament endorsed Ukraine’s bid hours earlier than the summit began, voting to move a decision that calls EU heads of state and authorities to “move without delay” and “live up to their historical responsibility.”

The EU’s 27 nations have been united in backing Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion, adopting unprecedented financial sanctions in opposition to Moscow. Nonetheless, leaders had been at first cut up on how rapidly the EU ought to transfer to settle for Ukraine as a member, with the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark among the many most skeptical.

However Ukraine’s utility bought a lift final week when the EU’s govt arm, the European Fee, gave its seal of approval primarily based on the nation’s solutions to a questionnaire acquired in April and early Might.

Ukraine acquired one other shot within the arm when the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania visited the nation and vowed to again its candidacy.

In one other indication of how vital EU candidacy is for Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy mentioned he spoke with 11 EU leaders on Wednesday, following calls with 9 the day earlier than. He mentioned the assembly in Brussels will probably be an “historic session of the European Council.”

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EU candidate status doesn’t give an automated proper to be part of the bloc, although, and doesn’t present any safety ensures.

It’s unlikely that membership talks might begin earlier than subsequent yr, with the prospect of the struggle dragging on for a really very long time including to the uncertainty.

The start of the accession discussions is dependent upon Ukraine assembly important political and financial circumstances.

To be admitted, potential newcomers want to exhibit that they meet requirements on democratic rules and soak up a big corpus of guidelines. To assist nations with candidate status, the bloc can present technical and monetary help all through negotiations, however may determine to revoke the status if the required reforms aren’t applied.

European officers have mentioned that Ukraine has already applied about 70% of the EU guidelines, norms and requirements, however additionally they have pointed to corruption and the necessity for deep political and financial reforms within the nation.

“Considerable efforts will be needed, especially in the fight against corruption and the establishment of an effective rule of law,” Belgian Prime minister Alexander De Croo mentioned. “But I am convinced that it is precisely the (post-war) reconstruction of Ukraine that will provide opportunities to take important steps forward.”

Leaders will even debate Thursday a suggestion for the European Fee to grant Moldova — a tiny, non-NATO nation that borders Ukraine — EU candidate status. A stalled course of for shifting Western Balkans nations on the membership path can be on the summit agenda.

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