Belgian PM discusses Ukraine’s EU membership with Zelenskyy

De Croo’s statement echoes the European Commission’s opinion presented last Friday (June 17) recommending that Ukraine be granted candidate status provided that it carries out reforms in four areas notably: the rule of law, the fight against corruption, the internal market and the protection of minorities. [EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET]

Ukraine’s application for EU membership, which will be a central topic at Thursday’s European Council summit, has Belgium’s full support, Prime minister Alexander De Croo told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy over the phone on Wednesday.

“Tomorrow, the member states of the European Union will send a strong symbolic signal: Ukraine is part of the European family,” De Croo said in a statement, adding that Ukrainians are now “fighting for our European values of freedom and democracy” and that granting Kyiv the candidate status would only be “the beginning of the journey for Ukraine” as “considerable efforts will be needed, especially in the fight against corruption and the establishment of an effective rule of law.”

De Croo’s statement echoes the European Commission’s opinion presented last Friday (June 17) recommending that Ukraine be granted candidate status provided that it carries out reforms in four areas notably: the rule of law, the fight against corruption, the internal market and the protection of minorities.

Ukraine now needs the unanimous approval of all 27 EU member states to go further in the accession process, which is why it has been trying to get reluctant EU member states on board over the past few weeks.

If Ukraine is granted candidate status, it would be the start of long negotiations before effective integration into the EU.

De Croo and Zelenskyy also spoke about the reconstruction of Ukraine, De Croo being convinced that “it is precisely the reconstruction of Ukraine that will provide opportunities to take important steps forward.”

For his part, Zelenskyy thanked Belgium for its support on the EU membership application as well as for its assistance during the war and he added that Ukraine expects Belgium to make “a significant contribution” to the reconstruction of the country. He also invited De Croo to visit Ukraine.

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