Jun 17, 2022 - World

European Union's executive arm endorses Ukraine for candidate status

Zelensky and Macron

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Frances President Emmanuel Macron shake hands after a press conference on June 16 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo: Alexey Furman/Getty Images

The European Union's executive arm on Friday recommended Ukraine for candidate status a day after key European leaders endorsed the plan on a visit to Kyiv, AP reports.

Why it matters: The recommendation is the first step in what could be a long process for Ukraine to join the bloc. Moving forward with the accession process requires a unanimous vote of the 27 member states, per AP.

What they're saying: Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, said Friday the EU should welcome Ukraine as a candidate country, per CNBC.

  • "Ukraine deserves [the] European perspective," von der Leyen said, per CNBC. "Yes, Ukraine should be welcomed as a candidate country. This is on the understanding that good work has been done, but important work also remains to be done."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a tweet: "I commend the positive ... conclusion on [Ukraine's] candidate status. It's the 1st step on the EU membership path that’ll certainly bring our Victory closer."

Catch up fast: Ukraine asked to join the European Union shortly after Russia invaded in late February.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Thursday visited Ukraine for the first time since the invasion.
  • The leaders, who represent the countries with the largest economies in the EU bloc, announced after meeting with Zelensky that their countries would back Ukraine for candidate status — a significant show of support.

Yes, but: Becoming an EU member can take many years, and the process will likely require Ukraine to meet several conditions and adopt economic and political reforms, CNBC reports.

  • The executive arm also recommended Ukraine's neighbor, Moldova, for candidate status, per CNBC.

What's next: Leaders of the bloc will discuss the executive arm’s recommendations at a summit in Brussels next week.

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