Ukraine gets European Union backing for membership

November 8, 2023

The European Commission on Wednesday recommended that formal discussions begin aimed at Ukraine’s efforts to join the European Union (EU). 

The European Commission is part of the executive of the EU, along with the European Council. It operates as a cabinet government, with 27 members of the Commission—a “College” of Commissioners—headed by a President.

The Commission’s recommendation takes Ukraine closer to membership, five months after the EU’s 27 member nations gave it candidate status. 

Current Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, praised the recommendation as “excellent progress, even as [Ukraine is] fighting an existential war.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hosted von der Leyen in Kyiv over the weekend.

“I welcome today’s recommendation by the European Commission to open EU accession negotiations with Ukraine,” Zelensky posted on social media on Wednesday. “This is a strong and historic step that paves the way to a stronger EU with Ukraine as its member.”

He added that Ukraine “continues on its reform path” and looks forward to the European Council’s decision next month at the EU’s December summit.

Von der Leyen said Ukraine had already completed “well over 90% of the necessary reforms” that the EU had set out for its membership last year.

She also suggested that discussions should start with Moldova, which applied for membership around the same time as Ukraine—in the weeks following Russia’s February 24, 2022 invasion—as well as with Georgia, which was passed over for membership status when Ukraine and Moldova became candidates this past June.

Von der Leyen noted that since then, Georgia has made sufficient progress on gender equality, fighting violence against women and organized crime.

The European Union turned 30 years old on November 1.

PHOTO: Ursula von der Leyen and Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine on Saturday  

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