Ukraine is set to be approved as an EU candidate at a leaders’ summit in Brussels, after the European Commission gave the green light.
Ukraine applied days after the Russian invasion in February, and the process has since moved at a record speed. Its ambassador to the EU told the BBC it would be a psychological boost for Ukrainians.
But Vsevolod Chentsov admitted “real integration” could only start when the war was over.
Candidate status is the first official step towards EU membership and France said this week there was “total consensus” on Ukraine. But it can take many years to join and there’s no guarantee of success.
Several EU states have agreed to back Ukraine’s candidacy, provided conditions are attached before accession negotiations can begin, including judicial and anti-corruption reforms.
It’s not clear when negotiations might start but the European Commission president said the process would be “merit-based” and “by the book”. The Commission is due to take stock at the end of 2022.
Moldova’s application is also recommended for conditional approval while Georgia is set to be turned down, although the European Commission said the country could belong to the EU in “due time”.
The step will undoubtedly be a big moment for Ukraine, and a popular one. President Volodymyr Zelensky has spoken of his country’s desire for candidate status in almost every speech over the last week. He knows that starting down the path of EU membership will permanently shift Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit.