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EU says Ukraine should be given candidate status to join bloc

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(The Guardian) The European Commission has said Ukraine should be given candidate status to join the EU, in a show of confidence in the wartime government of Volodymyr Zelenskiy and a diplomatic blow to Vladimir Putin.

The EU executive also recommended candidate status for Moldova, another former Soviet state that launched an EU membership bid soon after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But it gave a more guarded response to Georgia, saying the country needed to carry out further anti-corruption and judicial reforms.

EU leaders will decide next week whether to grant the three states EU candidate status, although full membership would be likely to take years. The decision would be a historic step for Ukraine, where reformers have been seeking democratic change since the Maidan protests of 2014, events that were the prelude to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and war on its neighbour.

The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said Ukraine had made progress in the last eight years. She cited reforms to create a market economy, independent judiciary and to tackle corruption but said more needed to be done to allow Ukraine to progress in membership talks.

“Ukraine should be welcomed as a candidate country. This is on the understanding that good work has been done, but important work also remains to be done,” she told reporters. “The entire process is merit-based. So it goes by the book and therefore progress depends entirely on Ukraine. It is Ukraine that has it in their hands.”

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