Ukraine: First-person footage reveals warfare in Severodonetsk
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Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky began the process of Ukraine applying for membership with the European Union (EU), last February. The timeline for joining can take years, or even decades, to complete. But President Zelensky has suggested the EU use a special procedure to grant Kyiv immediate membership of the bloc.
Officials in Ukraine started putting together its application four days after Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered a full-scale invasion of Moscow’s ex-Soviet neighbour.
The second part of the country’s membership request was submitted in May, and Ukraine has been awaiting a response from the EU ever since.
On Saturday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen held a joint news conference with President Zelensky.
She told reporters that her executive will announce its decision on whether Ukraine should be given candidate status to join the EU “by the end of next week”.
During her second visit to Kyiv, since war broke out on February 24, 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.”
Throughout the process Ms von der Leyen has been a key champion of Ukraine’s application, saying there’s no question that the country belongs in “the European family”.
But support for Kyiv to bypass the EU’s usually stringent membership process has been knocked back by France and Germany.
France President Emmanuel Macron said, last month, it “would take several years indeed, probably several decades”, for Ukraine to secure membership with the bloc.
He added: “That is the truth, unless we decide to lower the standards for accession. And rethink the unity of our Europe.”
His comments were reinforced days later, by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who said “there are no shortcuts on the way to the EU”.
Mr Scholz said that to allow quick access into the EU would be unfair to other countries, specifically mentioning several Balkan nations.
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He added: “The accession process is not a matter of a few months or years.”
But despite seeming to rule out making Ukraine an exception to the rules, the two countries have not said they’re opposed to Ukraine becoming a member altogether.
In May, the foreign affairs committees of the French, German, Italian and Spanish parliaments issued a joint statement, expressing support for Ukraine’s ambitions to join the bloc.
The application process for becoming an EU member is particularly stringent, and involves candidates needing to demonstrate that they meet certain criteria.
Countries must show they respect democracy and the rule of law, as well as having a robust enough economy.
Debate around Ukraine joining the EU led to President Macron tabling his idea for a “parallel European community”.
He revealed his plan 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.
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