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Von der Leyen hails Kyiv’s ‘excellent progress’ in EU accession efforts

ursula
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Saturday that Ukraine had made “excellent progress” towards EU accession, days ahead of a key report on Kyiv’s membership bid.

Standing next to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, she said Ukraine had reached many milestones despite the war with Russia, highlighting Kyiv’s judicial reforms.

“I must say you have made excellent progress,” she told a joint news conference in Kyiv.

“I know you are in the process of completing outstanding reforms. If this happens and, I am confident, Ukraine can reach its ambitious goal of moving to the next stage in the accession process.”

The EU assessment due on Wednesday is expected to say how far Ukraine has advanced in fulfilling various economic, legal, and other criteria to clear the way for accession talks in December.

Ukraine, which applied to join the European Union days after Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, sees membership as a top priority.

The Ukrainian government has implemented all the steps required to ensure its readiness, Zelenskiy said, vowing to press on with reforms. He stressed efforts to fight corruption, improve transparency, and reduce the influence of oligarchs on the economy.

“This visit comes at a historical moment … when we are waiting on a political decision about Ukraine. This decision will have a pivotal impact not only for Ukraine but for entire Europe,” Zelenskiy said.

“Ukraine does not stop in transforming our institutions, reforms will continue.”

The EU’s 27 members are due at a summit in December to decide whether to allow Kyiv to begin accession negotiations, which would require unanimous backing.

Ukraine’s bid received a boost on Thursday when German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she was confident the EU would advance Ukraine’s application next month.

Membership talks typically take years and involve extensive legal, political, and economic reforms. Ukraine’s case has been made much harder by the war.

Von der Leyen’s visit comes as Ukraine‘s troops face battle fatigue and concerns swirl over the future of vital U.S. military assistance.

The EU had already provided 83 billion euros for Ukraine and plans to send another 3 billion euros by the end of this year, she said.

Von der Leyen also said work on a proposal on pooling profits from frozen Russian state assets to help Ukraine with reconstruction was ongoing with a result expected before the end of the year.

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