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The European Commission has recommended Ukraine candidate status for EU membership.

Ursula von der Leyen, chair of the commission, said on Friday that the EU executive believes Ukraine should be granted status provided it continues to carry out reforms to bring it into line with regulations. of the EU. These reforms include the rule of law, the fight against corruption and its judicial system.

“Ukraine has clearly demonstrated the country’s aspirations and determination to uphold European values ​​and standards,” von der Leyen told reporters, noting that the EC had “very carefully” assessed “the merits” of her candidacy.

Kyiv applied for membership soon after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Although an important step, the committee’s opinion must now be endorsed by each of the 27 EU member states at a leaders’ summit next Thursday and Friday.

Some countries, including Denmark, the Netherlands and Portugal, have expressed doubts about the decision, and discussions are not expected to be straightforward.

Ukraine’s bid received a significant boost on Thursday with the joint visit of French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi to Kyiv, where the EU’s three most powerful leaders endorsed his desire to join the bloc.

However, even if Ukraine is granted candidate status by the 27 countries next week, it will face a long and arduous process before it becomes a member of the EU.

The last country to join the EU, Croatia, took nine years to become a member after gaining candidate status in 2004, while North Macedonia has officially been a candidate country since 2005. Albania, the Republic North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey is also a candidate country.

Von der Leyen also said the commission had recommended candidate status for Moldova, under similar conditions as Ukraine. However, she said Georgia’s status as a candidate country should only be granted after taking further steps to meet EU requirements.

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