EU chief vows fast reply to Kyiv on membership

2022-06-13 11:16:06China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Von der Leyen: 'We want to support Ukraine in its European journey'

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says the commission will provide a clear response this week to Ukraine over its quest to join the European Union.

It was the first time that an EU leader has given a time frame for the issue, a controversial one among the 27 member states.

In a surprise visit to Kyiv on Saturday, von der Leyen met with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. It was her second visit to Ukraine since the Russia-Ukraine conflict broke out on Feb 24. Her previous visit was on April 8.

"We want to support Ukraine in its European journey," she said in a joint news conference with Zelensky.

"The discussion today will enable us to finalize our assessment by the end of next week."

"The path is known," she said. "It is a merit-based path forward. It is a path where, I must say, I really appreciate the enormous efforts and determination of Ukraine in this process."

The commission has been "working day and night on this assessment", she said, referring to a promise she made during her visit in April about evaluating Ukraine's application.

Ukraine's EU membership would be positive for Europe, Zelensky said. He also called for a new round of "even stronger" EU sanctions against Russia.

Ukraine is demanding a concrete "legal commitment" by the end of this month to obtain official candidate status for its entry into the EU.

For the issue to go ahead, the 27 EU member states must agree unanimously. While Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have called for Ukraine's speedy accession, several other member states-such as Germany, France, the Netherlands and Denmark-have voiced reservations on any fast-tracking.

Von der Leyen also hinted that much remains to be done for Ukraine to join the bloc.

"You have done a lot in strengthening the rule of law, but there still need to be reforms implemented, to fight corruption for example, or to modernize this well-functioning administration, to help attract investors."

There are expectations that Ukraine's candidacy will be approved at an EU leaders summit in June, with some strict conditions attached.

Even if Ukraine is given candidate status, the road to membership is usually very long.

"We all know perfectly well that the process to allow (Ukraine) to join would take several years, indeed probably several decades," French President Emmanuel Macron told the European Parliament in Strasbourg last month.

In a tweet on Saturday, Shmyhal, the Ukrainian prime minister, said he and von der Leyen discussed Ukraine's recovery plan developing in line with EU principles.

On Sunday, the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported that Chancellor Olaf Scholz plans to visit Kyiv with Macron and Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill into law on Russian noncompliance with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

In accordance with the new law, Russia will not abide by the court's rulings adopted after March 15, when the country announced its exit from the Council of Europe.

In addition, compensations assessed by the court will be made only in roubles and transferred only to accounts in Russian banks.

The bill was approved on Wednesday by the Federation Council, or the upper house of Russian parliament, on Wednesday.

On the business front, the first 15 restaurants formerly owned by McDonald's Corp will reopen in Moscow on Sunday under new ownership and a new name, "Vkusno & tochka", which means "Tasty & that's it", the company said.


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