Ukraine will be granted EU candidate status: Von der Leyen

The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has expressed confidence that Ukraine will be granted official candidate status ahead of a key EU summit in Brussels later this month.

“I firmly believe that we will get a positive decision, that we will get support, that the course has now been set,” von der Leyen told German public broadcaster ARD on Sunday evening.

“Of course, this is also a historic decision that the European Council now has to make, but the preparations are good,” she said, adding that she was “confident” of Ukrainian prospects.

Von der Leyen’s comments come after the EU Commission on Friday came out in favour of formally designating Ukraine and Moldova as candidates to join the European Union.

The 27 EU member states are due to discuss the Commission’s recommendation at a summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday. Also on the agenda will be Georgia’s application for EU membership, which, in the Commission’s estimation, should be subject to the fulfilment of various conditions.

The member states have so far not taken a unified line on Ukraine and Moldova’s accession. Austria’s government has argued for Bosnia-Herzegovina to be granted candidate status at the same time, while Romania has been lobbying for Georgia.

Von der Leyen stressed that the Commission’s decision to support Ukrainian candidate status was made on the basis of data, facts and the preparatory work the country had done over the past eight years.

“Ukraine has made enormous steps forward in the last few years,” von der Leyen said, adding “we want to see even more.”