The European Commission is likely to decide this week to make Ukraine an official candidate for membership in the European Union, Politico reported Monday, citing officials with knowledge of the commission’s debate.
The College of Commissioners met Monday to debate granting Ukraine’s formal request to join the European Union following Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.
The debate also followed a surprise visit to Kyiv by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, where she met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“As president [von der Leyen] stated during her visit to Kyiv, we are relentlessly preparing the recommendations for EU countries,” the commission posted on Twitter on Monday. “The assessment will be finalized by this week. The path is known, it is a merit-based path forward. And Europe stands by your side.”
Zelenskyy said in his own post, the decision to admit Ukraine into the European Union will serve the union itself as well as Ukraine.
“Regarding our EU application for candidacy: the EU’s response to our application isn’t only to Ukraine, but also to its own future — the future of the European project,” Zelenskyy’s said during a June 10 speech to the country.
According to Politico, admission into the union would bring a large morale boost to Ukraine as it tries to stave off Russian forces as the war rages on.
The sacrifices of thousands of Ukrainians during the conflict were a key element of Monday’s discussion by the commission, who see it could send a strong message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that Ukraine will have a democratic future instead of being part of the Russian “sphere of influence,” according to the report.
“The Commission does not forget that Ukraine is the only country in Europe where people died, where people were shot at because they were on the streets carrying EU flags,” one senior official told Politico. “Now, we cannot tell them, ‘Sorry guys, you were waving the wrong flags.'”
Even if accepted as a candidate country for admission into the union, it would still be more than a decade before permanent membership is granted, but some EU leaders, like France President Emmanuel Macron, are suggesting interim status, according to the report.
“Once Ukraine potentially gets the candidate status, we must also see when the negotiation opens,” an Elysée Palace official said. “And you know that the methodology of EU membership foresees a negotiation by chapters and a reversible negotiation according to how the country evolves. Therefore, there are demands that correspond to the EU standards and anyway, those will be very demanding for Ukraine.”