Brussels, Jun 23 (EFE).- European Union leaders were gathering in Brussels on Thursday for a crunch European Council summit where they are expected to approve Ukraine’s application to become a candidate to join the bloc.
The leaders will also discuss the accession of Moldova, which also applied to join in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
EC president Charles Michel said the summit was being held at a “decisive moment” for the EU, which would have to make “a geopolitical choice” that would decide Europe’s outlook.
“I am confident that we will grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova and express a clear and strong European perspective,” he told reporters upon his arrival.
The 27 member states are expected to take the first step in the accession process for those two countries, which will only be accomplished if they undertake reforms demanded by the European Commission.
Before the EC summit, the EU leaders met with the heads of state and government of Western Balkan nations, who also aspire to join the bloc.
“Today and tomorrow we have a very important and historic summit. We will renew our show of solidarity with Ukraine,” said German chancellor Olaf Scholz, who said the priority now was to set out the necessary conditions for the Ukrainian people’s path to the EU to be “successful.”
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said the process would not be easy, adding that although his country was initially “worried” that the war would lead the Commission to “rush” to recommend giving candidate status to Ukraine, he now believes it has made a “balanced” but “tough, brutally honest assessment” of the work that still lies ahead for the country to join the EU.
Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas highlighted the importance of giving Ukraine and Moldova “hope for a European perspective,” adding that, in Ukraine’s case, there is a “window of opportunity in which everybody is joining hands and ready to do the necessary reforms.”
Spanish leader Pedro Sánchez echoed Kallas’ sentiments, confirming his country’s support for Ukraine and Moldova to obtain candidate status, while also supporting the possibility of Georgia obtaining it and the revitalization of the debate on enlargement to include Western Balkan countries.
Earlier on Thursday, the plenary of the European Parliament resoundingly adopted a resolution — 529 votes in favor, 45 against and 14 abstentions — calling on EU leaders to “live up to their historical responsibility and give a clear political signal to Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, confirming their European perspective.”
In the current context of the “brutal Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, this move would equate to showing leadership, resolve and vision,” the MEPs said.
If, as expected, they are granted candidate status, Ukraine and Moldova must carry out the reforms demanded by the European Commission on judicial independence, the fight against corruption and organized crime and implement the law limiting the power of oligarchs.
The EU summit, which continues on Friday, will also focus on Russia’s war against Ukraine, the Conference on the Future of Europe and various economic issues. EFE