EU senior figures visit Ukraine as impatience to join bloc grows
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and 15 other EU commissioners are in Kiev on Thursday to meet with members of the Ukrainian government, the commission said in a statement.
“We are here together to show that the EU stands by Ukraine as firmly as ever,” von der Leyen wrote on Twitter.
European Council President Charles Michel is expected to arrive on Friday for a summit meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The two-day visit comes after the Ukrainian government published a statement saying it expects from the EU a roadmap on how to start formal membership negotiations “as quickly and successfully as possible.”
Accession is a highly complex and lengthy multi-step process of legal reforms and alignment with the EU’s rulebook and taking the hurdle from candidate status, as held by Ukraine since last summer, to official talks has in the past in sometimes taken more than a decade.
The meeting is likely to acknowledge Ukraine’s progress in some areas, like judicial reforms, while discussing other forms of short and long-term support.
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“Arrived in Kyiv to convey EU’s strongest message of support to all Ukrainians defending their country,” EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell wrote on Twitter.
“EU assistance has reached €50 billion ($55 billion) since the start of Russia’s war.
“Europe stood united with Ukraine from day one. And will still stand with you to win and rebuild,” Borrell added.
The EU is expected to make plans official to train an additional 15,000 soldiers as part of an ongoing training mission. Financial and humanitarian support, and ongoing assistance to maintain food exports despite the war are also likely to be discussed.
The EU’s support for Zelensky’s previously announced 10-point plan to restore peace, the reconstruction of Ukraine and justice for war crimes committed by Russia are also on the agenda.
Suspending roaming fees for Ukrainian mobile phone users is to be discussed as part of efforts to move Ukraine’s economy closer to the EU single market.