Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy formally submitted a completed questionnaire on EU membership to the bloc’s envoy in Kyiv on Monday (18 April) and said he believed this step would lead to his country gaining candidate status ‘within weeks’.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen handed the questionnaire to Zelenskyy during a visit to Kyiv on 8 April, pledging a speedier start to Ukraine’s bid to become a member of the EU following Russia’s invasion of the country.
Zelenskyy submitted the document, reportedly completed in only 10 days, to the EU’s envoy to Ukraine, footage of the meeting released by his office showed.
“We strongly believe that this procedure (granting of candidate status) will take place in the coming weeks and that it will be positive for the history of our people, given the price they paid on the path to independence and democracy,” Zelenskyy said during the meeting.
In a speech later on Monday night as Russia started its offensive in the Donbas, Zelenskyy said “Ukraine’s accession to the EU is an integral part of the strategic vision” for a future for the next decades.
“Each country that joined the EU went through the same procedure with the questionnaire – the only difference is that it took them years, and we completed it in a little more than a week,” Zelenskyy noted.
Diplomats from the countries which joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 remember that the procedure of answering the questionnaire took many months and that the volume of paperwork was so big that several people were needed to help carry it.
“We will provide the second part of the answers shortly, and we hope that Europe’s decision in response will be quick,” he added.
Ihor Zhovkva, the deputy head of Zelenskyy’s office said earlier on Monday that he expected Ukraine would be granted candidate status in June during a scheduled meeting of the European Council, which comprises leaders of EU member states.
“We expect the recommendation … to be positive, and then the ball will be on the side of the EU member states,” Zhovkva said.
A regular EU summit is scheduled for 23-24 June, while an extraordinary one has been already announced for 30-31 May to deal with Russia, energy and defence matters.
But before there can be a discussion about Ukraine’s membership bid among the EU27, the European Commission will need to issue a recommendation on Ukraine’s compliance with the necessary membership criteria.
According to EU officials, the expectation is that the opinion could be drafted in May and ready by June.
“We know how important it is for them to have the signal and to encourage them, as they are fighting for their survival,” an EU official said.
Even though Ukraine’s process is expected to be somewhat quicker than that of other EU member states, it still is likely to be lengthy. Croatia, the most recent EU member, took 10 years to join the bloc.
(Edited by Georgi Gotev)