EU Chief visits Ukraine to discuss its bid to join bloc


EU chief Ursula von der Leyen visited Ukraine on Saturday to discuss with President Volodymyr Zelensky his country’s bid to get candidacy status to join the European Union.
While Kyiv has been pushing for rapid admission into the European Union, officials and leaders in the bloc have cautioned that the road to membership is a long one, which can take years or decades.
Ukraine sees the prospect of joining the EU as a way of reducing its geopolitical vulnerability, which has been exposed by Russia’s war inside its borders.
“With President Zelensky I will take stock of the joint work needed for reconstruction and of the progress made by Ukraine on its European path,” von der Leyen tweeted on arrival in Kyiv.
She told a group of journalists travelling with her, including AFP, that the discussions “will feed into our assessment” of Ukraine’s readiness to be considered a candidate country to begin lengthy negotiations, including needed reforms.
That assessment by her commission will be presented “soon,” she said.
EU commissioners and officials are expected to pore over Ukraine’s bid next week, ahead of a June 23-24 summit that will likely take up the matter.
Von der Leyen’s trip to Kyiv was her second since the Russian invasion in late February.
Her last one, on April 8, was to hand Zelensky a questionnaire his officials needed to fill out to provide details that would help inform the European Commission’s opinion it has to give to the European Council, representing the EU’s 27 member states.