The European Union leaders have unanimously decided to grant Ukraine EU candidate status.
The two-day meeting of the European Council, which began in Brussels Thursday, also agreed to grant candidacy to Moldova.
The Council directed the European Commission to report to it on the fulfillment of the conditions specified in the Commission’s opinions on the respective membership applications as part of its regular enlargement package. The Council will decide on further steps once all these conditions are fully met.
Granting candidate status sets in motion a lengthy and complex membership process that includes multiple-layer legislative approvals.
In addition to Ukraine and Moldova, the summit also considered the membership application from Georgia.
The European Council said it is ready to grant the status of candidate country to Georgia once the priorities specified in the Commission’s opinion on Georgia’s membership application have been addressed.
The progress of each country towards the European Union will depend on its own merit in meeting the Copenhagen criteria, taking into consideration the EU’s capacity to absorb new members, the Council said in a statement.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed his gratitude to the apex council by declaring on Twitter, “Ukraine’s future is within the EU.”
European Council President Charles Michel termed it “a historic moment.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said all the three Black Sea countries have “homework to do before moving to the next stage of the accession process, and move as swiftly as possible and work as hard as possible to implement the necessary reforms.”
The European Council pledged to work immediately on increasing military and financial assistance to Ukraine.
“The European Union remains strongly committed to providing further military support to help Ukraine exercise its inherent right of self-defense against the Russian aggression and defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty. To this end, the European Council calls on the Council to swiftly work on a further increase of military support,” the Council said in a press release issued after concluding business on Day One of the Summit.
Ukraine applied for EU membership on February 28, just four days after Russia invaded it. Georgia and Moldova both applied for EU membership on March 3.
Ukraine getting candidate status in a comparatively shorter period is seen as a moral victory for the war-torn country, but the nation is in deep trouble in the war front, losing control of eastern cities.
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