Europe must make the right choice in responding to Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia’s aspirations to join the EU, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a speech to the European Parliament on 22 June.
Ursula von der Leyen thanked the European Parliament for speaking out “loud and clear” in support of a European path for these countries, and presented the Opinions issued by the European Commission on all three EU accession applications on 17 June.
She noted that Ukraine is “the only country where people got shot because they wrapped themselves in a European flag” and that “Ukraine has gone through hell and high water for one simple reason: its desire to join the European Union”.
She added that thanks to the Association Agreement of 2016, Ukraine has already implemented roughly 70% of EU rules, norms and standards and is already involved in many important EU programmes like Horizon Europe and Erasmus.
Referring to the important work that still needs to be done, the President said Ukraine had already achieved some results in the fight against corruption. For example, it has created the necessary anti-corruption bodies: “But now these institutions have to come to life. They need teeth, and the right people in senior posts.”
Speaking about the assessment of Moldova’s application, Ursula von der Leyen said that Moldova is on “a real pro-reform, anti-corruption and European path for the first time since independence”. She added that the country deserves the European perspective and candidate status, “again on the understanding that the country will carry out a number of further, important reforms. In particular, its economy and public administration require major efforts”.
Concerning the European Commission Opinion on Georgia’s application, von der Leyen said that Georgia’s “application has strengths, in particular the market orientation of its economy, with a strong private sector”. She added that to succeed, the country must now come together politically, design a clear path towards structural reform and towards the European Union.
“This is why we recommend to Council to grant Georgia the European perspective, but to come back and assess how the country meets a number of conditions before granting it candidate status,” said Ursula von der Leyen.
The European Council meets today and tomorrow in Brussels to discuss membership applications from Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia.
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