It is the third time that von der Leyen has visited Kiev since the Russian army invaded Ukraine on February 24, but the first time since the European heads of state and government decided in June to grant the country candidate membership. “It is impressive to see the speed, determination and precision with which you are making progress,” praised the Commission President.
Negotiations on effective accession to the European Union, which usually take years, can only start once the government in Kiev has implemented extensive reforms, including in the judiciary and in tackling corruption. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal expressed his hope in Brussels last week that his country will meet the conditions for the start of negotiations by the end of the year.
In the meantime, von der Leyen and Zelensky want to ensure that Ukraine can tap into new revenues by giving the country as much access as possible to the European internal market. Earlier this year, the Ukrainian and European power grids were already connected. Von der Leyen spoke on Thursday about removing further non-tariff barriers and bringing Ukraine into the European roaming area. Zelensky, for his part, agreed that his country’s integration into the European single market is “the priority issue”.
Von der Leyen received an award from the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise in Kiev. “A great honor that I accept on behalf of all EU citizens,” she tweeted. She, in turn, congratulated Zelensky on the recent military successes of the Ukrainian armed forces. “Their success has boosted morale not only for the Ukrainian people, but also for all your friends.”
Also review: Von der Leyen: “Profits should be shared”