President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a joint Task Force to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and strengthen European energy security
Ursula von der Leyen to Ukrainian parliament: investments should be coupled with new wave of reforms
“There is a long road ahead but Europe will be at your side every step of the way, for as long as it takes, from these dark days of war until the moment you cross the door that leads into our European Union,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the Ukrainian parliament during a live video address on 1 July.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal also took part in the plenary session of the Ukrainian parliament.
Von der Leyen praised the bravery of the Ukrainian people in defending their country against Russian aggression: “Your brave soldiers on the frontline are making ultimate sacrifices to defend the soil of Ukraine and its people. And behind the lines, there are countless other Ukrainians working to support this national endeavour.” She also praised the authorities who have kept the state and democracy “up and running against all odds”.
Regarding Ukraine’s candidate status, von der Leyen noted the next steps require “hard work, determination and above all unity of purpose.”
She also announced that next Monday, together with President Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Shmyhal, she will participate in the Lugano conference for the reconstruction of Ukraine. “Massive investments will have to come. But to maximise their impact and to foster business confidence, investments will have to be coupled with a new wave of reforms,” added von der Leyen, urging Ukraine to take the fight against corruption.
However, she said that “for instance, no one expects Ukraine to fill in all the posts in your new [anti-corruption] institutions while so many of your best and brightest are fighting on the front”. “But Ukraine’s democracy must be kept on the right track. You have already shown that you can pass important laws even as the war still rages on, and make every day count,” said von der Leyen.
“You are the ones who can change this country for good. And this will be your ultimate victory. A free, prosperous and vibrant Ukraine. A sovereign Ukraine that is finally reunited with our European family. Slava Ukraini,” concluded von der Leyen.
During the President’s address the EU flag was brought into the plenary hall of Verkhovna Rada. “Brought here to stay,” commented the European Commission in Telegram.
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European Council: Ukraine and Moldova granted EU candidate status
On 23 June, EU leaders meeting in the European Council agreed to grant Ukraine and Moldova EU candidate status.
“A historic moment. Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU,” wrote European Council President Charles Michel on Twitter. “Congratulations to Zelenskyy and Maia Sandu and the people of Ukraine and Moldova. Our future is together.”
At the same time, the Council decided to recognise the European perspective of Georgia, and, according to Michel, “is ready to grant candidate status once the outstanding priorities are addressed”.
The decision follows the Opinions issued by the European Commission on all three EU accession applications on 17 June.
“I am very pleased with the Leaders’ endorsement of our Opinions,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the press conference following the Council. “Of course, the countries all have homework to do before moving to the next stage of the accession process. But I am convinced that they will all move as swiftly as possible and work as hard as possible to implement the necessary reforms.” She added that the changes needed for the EU accession would primarily benefit the states’ democracies, economies and citizens.
“This decision strengthens us all. It strengthens Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, in the face of Russian imperialism and it strengthens the European Union, because it shows once again to the world that we are united and strong in the face of external threats,” said Ursula von der Leyen.
In their Conclusions adopted on 23 June, EU leaders said:
- The European Council recognises the European perspective of Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia. The future of these countries and their citizens lies within the European Union.
- The European Council has decided to grant the status of candidate country to Ukraine and to the Republic of Moldova.
- The Commission is invited to report to the Council on the fulfilment of the conditions specified in the Commission’s opinions on the respective membership applications as part of its regular enlargement package. The Council will decide on further steps once all these conditions are fully met.
- The European Council is ready to grant the status of candidate country to Georgia once the priorities specified in the Commission’s opinion on Georgia’s membership application have been addressed.
- The progress of each country towards the European Union will depend on its own merit in meeting the Copenhagen criteria, taking into consideration the EU’s capacity to absorb new members.
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Von der Leyen back in Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian President
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has travelled to Kyiv today, meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
“Good to be back in Kyiv,” she tweeted. “I will take stock of the joint work needed for reconstruction and of the progress made by Ukraine on its European path.”
Speaking at a press point with the Ukrainian President, she said the EU and Ukraine were working together on a reconstruction platform to channel contributions, adding there was “huge interest from all over the world – NGOs, businesses, international institutions – to help Ukraine rise from the ashes.”
She added that the European Commission was currently preparing its recommendation for the EU member states – the so-called opinion – on Ukraine’s EU accession application. “We have been working day and night on this assessment. The discussions today will enable us to finalise our assessment by the end of next week,” she said, adding: “The path is known. It is a merit-based path forward. It is a path where I highly appreciate the enormous efforts and the determination of Ukraine in this process.”
It is the European Commission President’s second visit to Ukraine since the full-scale Russian invasion. On 8 April, Ursula von der Leyen travelled to Kyiv, launching Ukraine’s EU application process by handing the Ukrainian President the questionnaire that would form the starting point for the EU to decide on Ukraine’s membership.
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EU disburses €600 million in Macro-Financial Assistance to Ukraine
The European Commission, on behalf of the EU, today disbursed €600 million in Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) to Ukraine to address its acute financing gap related to its exceptional humanitarian and defence needs.
The first tranche of €600 million of this emergency macro-financial assistance operation, worth €1.2 billion, was paid in two tranches on 11 and 18 March.
These funds are provided to Ukraine in the form of long-term loans on highly favourable terms. They contribute to financing part of the sizable funding gap of the country, estimated by International Financial Institutions at around $15 billion for the second quarter of 2022.
The disbursement of this macro-financial assistance was to be conditional on the implementation of a series of the structural policy measures by the Ukrainian authorities. However, due to force majeure circumstances, the Commission decided to allocate the second tranche as a matter of urgency.
“Going forward, the EU will continue to provide short-term financial support to Ukraine while accompanying it in its long-term reconstruction, in line with the plans announced on Wednesday. Ukraine will get back on its feet as a democratic and prosperous country,” President Ursula von der Leyen said.
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Georgia to submit the second part of the EU self-assessment questionnaire to the European Commission by 10 MayGeorgia will submit the second part of the EU self-assessment questionnaire to the European Commission on 10 May, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ilia Darchiashvili said following the meeting of the Georgian government commission on EU integration, chaired by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.
"Georgia has completed the second part of the questionnaire and we are going to hand it over to the European Commission by 10 May," the minister is quoted as saying.
As Ilia Darchiashvili noted, the second part of the questionnaire was of technical-sectoral nature, and it took a great deal of efforts to complete it. The Minister thanked the government agencies that took part in the process.
According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission’s opinion regarding the document will be the next step on the path of EU integration.
On 2 May, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, handed over the first completed part of the EU questionnaire to the EU Ambassador to Georgia, Karl Hartzel.
MFA of Georgia