Leaders of 27 European countries agreed on Thursday to grant Ukraine and Moldova EU candidate status, European Council President Charles Michel said, marking a “historic moment” as Russia’s assault on Kyiv continues.
This decision, taken at the Summit of Heads of State and Government in Brussels, marks the beginning of a long and difficult process of joining the bloc.
“Today is an essential milestone on your path to the European Union,” wrote Charles Michel on Twitter, congratulating Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and Moldovan President Maia Sandu and their people. “We have a future together,” he added, also tweeting in both languages.
Georgia, which has European aspirations, must also undertake reforms to achieve that status. Michel stressed that “Georgia’s future lies within the EU”.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed a “unique and historic moment” after EU leaders agreed to give their country a candidate for EU membership amid Russia’s invasion.
“This is a unique and historic moment in relations between Ukraine and the European Union,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter, emphasizing that “Ukraine’s future lies at the heart of the European Union.”
For his part, French President Emmanuel Macron called the EU’s approval of Ukraine and Moldova’s candidates on Thursday as “a very strong signal for Russia”.
Macron, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU for six months, praised the “political step” resulting from “a strong and united Europe” at a press conference in Brussels hosting the European summit.
European leaders followed the recommendation of a commission made last week on three former Soviet republics.
Speaking at the summit, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called the Council of Europe decision “historic”.
Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia submitted their proposals shortly after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February.
The next stage of formal negotiations requires the unanimous consent of all 27 member states.
These negotiations have not yet started with North Macedonia and Albania, with candidates from 2005 and 2014.
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