European Commission President confident that Ukraine will get EU candidate status at summit

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen is optimistic about the upcoming decision of EU leaders to grant Ukraine a candidate status this week.

“I am confident that we will be able to get a positive decision, to get support. Of course, this is a historic decision, which must now also be made by the Council. But the preparation was good, the course is now set, and I am optimistic,” von der Leyen said on the air of ARD German TV channel, Ukrinform reports.

The official noted that intensive work with member states had been carried out in recent weeks and months, she had spoken personally with leaders, twice visited Ukraine. “We managed to convince very, very many,” the European politician stressed.

She called it not only a strategic interest, but also a moral duty of Europeans to support courageous Ukrainians in this difficult time and to make their way to the EU possible, because “they deserve it.” According to von der Leyen, Ukraine itself has made huge strides in recent years. Ukraine is already a strong parliamentary democracy with a vibrant civil society, and it has reformed its institutions in recent years to meet the requirements of the rule of law state.

At the same time, von der Leyen drew attention to the fact that Kyiv still has a lot of work to do.

With the membership prospect, Ukraine will receive homework, in particular on the fight against corruption, oligarchs, judicial reform and more. The head of the European Commission believes that the fight against corruption has been going “in a positive direction” for the last six years. Ukraine is very advanced in digitalization, better than many EU countries, “and this is the best way to fight corruption, because the less direct contacts in business, the more digital, automated business, the fewer opportunities to increase corruption.” It is not easy to reform the judiciary during the war, in part because judges cannot take part in competitions because they are fighting at the front.

At the same time, it is possible to continue to modernize the administration system. The great steps that have been taken in the aspect of decentralization can be seen every day, even now, in the conditions of war: governance is preserved, it functions, yields results,” the politician said.

The President of the EC also said that, in addition to the political assessment made by the Commission, the assessment of the competitiveness of the Ukrainian economy was ahead.

She noted that it is up to the candidate countries themselves how quickly they will make their way to membership. The official cited an example: Slovakia and Turkey received candidate status in 1990, with the former gaining membership in 2004 and the latter now being as far from it as it was at the beginning.

As reported, on June 17, the European Commission published its conclusions on the applications for accession to the EU submitted by Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia and recommended that the first two be granted candidate status. The Council is due to consider the issue at its summit on 23-24 June.