Ukraine now has a “very clear European perspective” but the road to EU membership will take time and require hard work, the president of the EU executive told the country’s parliament on Friday.
EU leaders last week granted Ukraine candidate status to join the bloc, formally opening a process that is expected to take years before it becomes a member of the union that now comprises 27 countries.
In a speech by video-link to the Ukrainian assembly, Ursula von der Leyen underlined the progress made by the country in its path towards EU membership while it defends itself against Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.
“Ukraine now has a very clear European perspective. And Ukraine is a candidate country to join the European Union, something that seemed almost unimaginable just five months ago,” she told lawmakers and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
“There is a long road ahead but Europe will be at your side every step of the way, for as long as it takes, from these dark days of war until the moment you cross the door that leads into our European Union,” she said, noting that many crucial reforms were needed as soon as possible.
“The next steps are within your reach. But they will require hard work,” she added.
She listed among urgent required measures: the adoption of a media law, the implementation of new rules that reduce oligarchs’ excessive clout and the appointment of top anti-corruption officials.