When EU will decide Ukraines fate – still need for reforms

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Shortly before it was invaded by Russia, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky made the first steps towards applying for EU membership. The ex-Soviet nation is not part of either the bloc or North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), which make up two of the largest political entities in the West.

When will the EU decide Ukraine’s fate?

Ukraine has now been waiting several months for a response from the EU, after beginning the application process last February.

But European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said her executive will announce its decision on whether Ukraine should be given candidate status to join the EU “by the end of next week”.

Ms von der Leyen made the comments during a joint news conference in Kyiv with President Zelensky.

She was making her second trip to the Ukrainian capital since Russia’s invasion began on February 24.

During the visit, she reminded President Zelensky that despite progress on administrative reforms, there was still work to do.

She said: “You have done a lot in strengthening the rule of law but there is still need for reforms to be implemented – to fight corruption, for example.”

The Commission President has championed Ukraine’s bid, saying there’s no question that the country belongs in “the European family”.

But some members – notably France and Germany – have raised concerns about accelerating Ukraine’s EU membership bid.

Typically the task of securing membership with the bloc takes years to complete.

During the process candidates have to demonstrate that they meet multiple criteria, from respecting democracy and the rule of law to having a robust enough economy.

Officials in Kyiv said that they do not want special treatment and are prepared to fulfil the EU’s stringent entry requirements.

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France President Emmanuel Macron has proposed that Ukraine instead be accepted as part of a “parallel European community”, while it awaits full EU membership.

He said it could take decades for Kyiv to officially join the bloc, but that his suggestion would be “a way of anchoring countries which are geographically in Europe and share our values”.

Mr Macron unveiled his idea to the European Parliament last month, and said it would include both members and non-members of the EU – including the UK.

However, he did not disclose specifics on how his idea would work in reality.

He said: “This new European organisation would allow democratic European nations adhering to our set of values to find a new space for political cooperation, security, cooperation in energy, transport, investment, infrastructure, and the movement of people, especially our youth.

“Joining it would not prejudge future membership in the European Union, necessarily, just as it would not be closed to those who have left.”

He added the “legitimate aspiration” of the people of Ukraine invites lawmakers to rethink how Europe is governed.

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