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Ukraine Edges Ever Closer to Joining the European Union

Ukraine Edges Ever Closer to Joining the European Union

The European Union agreed Thursday to put Ukraine on a path toward EU membership, acting with uncharacteristic speed and unity to pull the embattled country further away from Russia’s influence and bind it more closely to the West.

Meeting at a summit in Brussels, leaders of the EU’s 27 nations mustered the required unanimous approval to grant Ukraine candidate status. That sets in motion a membership process that could take years or even decades.

Ukraine applied for EU membership less than a week after Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine on February 24th. Thursday’s decision was unusually rapid for the EU and its go-slow approach to expansion. To gain EU membership, countries must meet a detailed host of economic and political conditions, including a commitment to the rule of law and other democratic principles. Ukraine will have to curb entrenched government corruption and adopt other reforms. But the war and Ukraine’s request for fast-track consideration lent urgency to the cause. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted his gratitude and declared: “Ukraine’s future is within the EU.”

“It’s a victory. We have been waiting for 120 days and 30 years,” Zelenskyy said on Instagram, referring to the duration of the war and the decades since Ukraine became independent upon the breakup of the Soviet Union. “And now we will defeat the enemy.”

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pronounced it a “good day for Europe.” The European Parliament endorsed Ukraine’s bid hours before the summit started, passing a resolution that called on EU governments to “move without delay.”

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