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Commission will urge EU candidate status for war-ravaged Ukraine – POLITICO

The European Commission will advocate granting Ukraine official status as an EU candidate nation, in accordance with a number of officers accustomed to deliberations that passed off throughout a debate amongst commissioners on Monday.

The debate within the College of Commissioners adopted a shock go to Saturday by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to Kyiv, the place she mentioned Ukraine’s membership bid with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. It was von der Leyen’s second journey to the Ukrainian capital since Russia’s full-scale invasion started in late February.

Zelenskyy and different Ukrainian officers have pleaded for official recognition as an EU candidate nation, saying the designation would supply an incalculably valuable wartime morale enhance. They have repeatedly famous that because the Maidan Revolution of 2013-14, Ukrainian residents have repeatedly risked their lives — and certainly 1000’s have now perished — combating for a free, democratic future within the EU.

Officials accustomed to the talk amongst commissioners mentioned there was eager consciousness of the sacrifices made by Ukrainians and clear recognition of the necessity to ship a powerful message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that he has misplaced any likelihood of reclaiming Ukraine into his supposed sphere of affect.

“The Commission does not forget that Ukraine is the only country in Europe where people died, where people were shot at because they were on the streets carrying EU flags,” one senior official mentioned. “Now, we cannot tell them, ‘sorry guys, you were waving the wrong flags.’”

Recognizing Ukraine as a candidate nation finally requires the unanimous approval of the 27 heads of state and authorities on the European Council, who’re anticipated to take up the query at a summit assembly in Brussels subsequent week. Officials and diplomats mentioned that at the least three nations had been nonetheless opposed.

Supporters of Ukraine’s bid have mentioned that any delay in granting candidate status could be deeply demoralizing for Ukraine as invading Russian forces proceed to occupy giant swaths of the south and east of the nation, and are urgent to beat your complete japanese Donbas area.

In current weeks, some leaders, together with French President Emmanuel Macron, have recommended that it will be extra helpful to grant Ukraine some form of interim status that strengthens its relations with the EU. Macron has mentioned that even when Ukraine is acknowledged as a candidate nation, it will take greater than a decade beneath present accession procedures for Ukraine to hitch the bloc.

Moldova and Georgia have additionally utilized for candidate status, and officers mentioned that commissioners had been typically supportive of Moldova, the place a staunchly pro-EU authorities is now in place, however that they had been much less assured about Georgia, which has suffered from pervasive political turmoil and notable democratic backsliding lately.

In discussions about candidate status for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, many EU officers and diplomats have famous the sensitivity given the gradual tempo of accession for Western Balkan nations, together with North Macedonia, which was declared a candidate nation in 2005; Montenegro, which obtained the designation in 2008; and Serbia and Albania, which had been acknowledged as candidates in 2009.

Monday’s debate amongst commissioners touched on broader points associated to what an expanded EU may seem like sooner or later, together with whether or not there would proceed to be one commissioner from every member state. The dialogue additionally touched on the likelihood that on the upcoming summit, some EU leaders may attempt to impose situations on Ukraine’s candidacy or return to the thought of granting some new designation that stops wanting official candidacy.

An Elysée Palace official echoed Macron’s feedback that candidate status, if granted, was simply the beginning of a far longer course of.

“Once Ukraine potentially gets the candidate status, we must also see when the negotiation opens,” the official mentioned. “And you know that the methodology of EU membership foresees a negotiation by chapters and a reversible negotiation according to how the country evolves. Therefore, there are demands that correspond to the EU standards and anyway, those will be very demanding for Ukraine.”

France at present holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU and, as such, has a key position in making ready the European Council debate.

“I’ll remind you,” the French official added, “all the other candidates … have been waiting sometimes for a very long time.”

In Kyiv, Ihor Zhovkva, deputy head of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy’s workplace, mentioned officers had been working in overdrive to win over EU governments not but satisfied that Kyiv ought to get candidate status at subsequent week’s summit.

“We really deserve the next logical step, which is candidate status,” Zhovkva instructed POLITICO. “It’s far away from membership. It’s not even opening the accession negotiations. We deserve this, at least.”

He added: “When you ask Ukrainian soldiers fighting somewhere in the Donbas or in the south of Ukraine against Russian aggression, ‘Do you want to be a part of the European Union family?’ They say, ‘Yes, definitely. Because that’s what I’m fighting for. I’m fighting not only for Ukraine, I’m fighting for European values. I’m fighting against [Russian] aggression in Europe.’”

Zhovkva additionally insisted: “We will not accept any alternatives or compromises like some leaders tell us, or deviations from this candidate status.”

Christopher Miller in Kyiv contributed reporting.

This article has been up to date.