Next Thursday (23), the countries that make up the European Union meet to evaluate Ukraine’s candidacy to join the group. In a press conference, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, defended the country’s characteristics as a candidate, but stressed that “there is still a lot of work” for EU accession to happen.
Questioned on the corruption present in the country led by Volodymyr Zelensky, Ursula highlighted that Ukraine needs to move forward in this aspect, but that “it is the only country to adopt a law against oligarchies”. She also stressed that the country “has followed a positive trajectory in the fight against corruption”.
Quoting the Portuguese prime minister, Ursula also stressed the importance of focusing on helping the country in the face of war, before commit to membership of the European Union. “There must be ongoing military support, as well as immediate financial relief to keep the country running, as well as help to allow agricultural products to leave Ukraine.”
Journalists also asked the president of the European Commission on the possibility of the accession of Ukraine and Moldova generating frustration for the Baltic States, which have already been granted the title of candidates, but have not yet been included. Ursula replied that “it is up to the countries to prove that they are suitable” and that she hopes that “the candidate status of Ukraine and Moldova will serve as an incentive for the Baltic States”.
Historical quest for the title of candidate
Entering the European Union can be the Ukrainian guarantee of belonging to the West. In the crisis of 2013, the then pro-Russian president, Victor Yanoukovitch, deposed in 2014, refused the EU association agreement. Negotiations were only resumed with the re-installation of a pro-Europe government.
It is also evident, for the Ukrainians, that being part of the group allows an economic rise. Ukraine, which in 1990 came out of the communist experience along with Poland, saw the neighboring country, a member of the EU, get rich and reach a GDP of more than 15 thousand dollars per inhabitant. Ukraine, today, has a GDP per capita more than four times lower, of 3.7 thousand dollars.