09:17 22 Jun 2022

EU leaders officially recognize Ukraine as a candidate for accession: draft conclusions

EU leaders in Brussels will approve the European Commission's recommendation on granting Ukraine and Moldova candidate status for accession to the European Union

The latest draft conclusions of the EU summit state this, Euractiv reports.

"The European Council has decided to grant the status of candidate country to Ukraine and to the Republic of Moldova," the draft decision of the EU leaders reads.

We will remind you they will meet at the summit in Brussels on June 23–24 to announce the decision.

EU leaders will decide on further steps once the countries fully meet all the conditions spelled out by the European Commission, the draft communiqué adds.

A first progress assessment report on the conditions is expected as part of the Commission's regular enlargement package by the end of this year.

The EU's executive recommended granting Ukraine and Moldova candidate status last week, which left EU leaders roughly a week to study the document before deciding on the matter.

The European Commission also recommended Moldova receive candidate status but fell short of granting the same outlook to Georgia until it fulfills conditions that lead to EU candidate status.

As for Georgia, the wording of the EU summit will be as follows: "The European Council 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, including the EU's capacity to absorb new members," the draft conclusions read.

The wording suggests that there is no intention of tying Ukraine and Moldova together as a "package deal," as has been done with North Macedonia and Albania, where one cannot move on with the process without the other.

After several days of internal EU discussions, no opposition among the 27 member states has surfaced; several EU diplomats told EURACTIV, saying they essentially believe the Commission's opinion will be reflected in the EU leader's decision later this week.

A day earlier, European Council President Charles Michel said on Monday (June 20) that he would invite EU leaders to approve Ukraine and Moldova's candidate status to join the bloc at the summit.

"Now is the time to acknowledge that the future of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia lies within the EU. I will invite you to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova," Michel wrote in the invitation letter to EU leaders.

On June 17, the European Commission published conclusions on Ukraine's, Moldova's, and Georgia's applications for EU membership, recommending that the first two be granted candidate status.

"Ukraine has clearly demonstrated the country's aspiration and commitment to live up to European values and standards," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at a news conference, wearing a yellow jacket and blue blouse in an apparent reference to the Ukrainian flag. Despite the war, "we have applied the commission's rigorous standards in assessing these membership applications," she said.

At the same time, Ukraine has been stipulated six requirements that it must meet not to lose its new status and move to the next stage of the procedure. Among them is implementing laws to ensure the selection of qualified judges and limit oligarchs' influence. It also asked that Ukraine improve its track record on investigations, prosecutions, and corruption convictions.

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