A A decision on accession can only be taken at the European Council in December, but the assessment that will be included in the report presented on Wednesday by Ursula von der Leyen’s executive will depend on it.
The report does not only concern Ukraine, but all countries with the same status: Moldova, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey.
For the opinion to be positive and for there to be a recommendation to the Council to deliberate on the start of formal negotiations, candidate countries must prove that they have made progress on the recommendations made by the Commission.
These include reforming the legal system and strengthening its independence, creating effective measures to combat corruption — which in Ukraine has considerable weight due to decades of influence by oligarchies — and also advancing digitalization and energy transition, for candidates to be on par with countries that are already part of the EU.
Last Saturday, Ursula von der Leyen appeared by surprise in Kiev and after a meeting with Zelensky said she was confident that Ukraine is doing everything to join the EU and that these reforms would be reflected in the report, so it is expected that there is a positive opinion, at least, in relation to Ukraine.
“I have to say that there has been excellent progress, it is impressive to see, and we will attest to that next week when the Commission presents its report on enlargement”, said Ursula von der Leyen, at a joint press conference with the President of Ukraine on Saturday.
However, Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged that there are still “many steps” that Ukraine has to complete, namely, “reforming the judicial system, tightening ties with oligarchs, tackling money laundering and much more.”
“I am confident that [a Ucrânia] you will be able to achieve your goal and advance to the next stage [do processo de adesão]”, concluded the president of the Commission.
Since February 24, 2022, Ukraine has sought to reaffirm its independence from Russia, which annexed substantial parts of its territory, and to this end the President, Volodymyr Zelensky, aimed to join the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO ) as a way to turn the country west and prevent future Russian attacks.
With the EU, the start of the process was the fastest to date and, simultaneously with neighboring Moldova, Ukraine received candidate status in June 2022.
After the meeting with Von der Leyen, Zelensky warned that the country “is not asking for shortcuts” to join: “The recommendations [de Bruxelas] are necessary to begin negotiations and we have implemented these recommendations.”
On the NATO side, Zelensky’s expectations ended up being disappointed, with the ‘brake’ placed by the leaders of the 31 countries that make up the political-military alliance.
The July summit of this year resulted in the creation of the NATO-Ukraine Council, a body that brings the country closer together, but, in practice, it is not a promise of membership, which was postponed to the future.
Therefore, the country invaded by Russia turned to the reforms that Brussels imposed to formally open negotiations.
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