The European Union’s prime official on Wednesday referred to as for a significant growth of the bloc to embrace not solely Ukraine but in addition Moldova, a number of Western Balkan nations and Georgia over the following few years, a transfer that may push the group from 27 to over 30 members with greater than half a billion residents, and would make the world’s largest free-trade, free-travel space even bigger.
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, stated that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had pushed Europe to reply “to the call of history.”
“In a world where size and weight matter, it is clearly in Europe’s strategic and security interest to complete our Union,” she stated in her annual State of the European Union tackle on the European Parliament within the French metropolis of Strasbourg.
Ms. von der Leyen stated that the aspiring new members ought to bear rigorous reforms earlier than becoming a member of the bloc. Addressing the priority of many longtime E.U. members, such because the Netherlands, she additionally confused that rule of legislation — which entails rooting out corruption — needs to be on the coronary heart of their accession.
The carefully watched tackle units the agenda for the yr forward and is the final in her five-year time period, which ends subsequent summer time with elections held throughout the E.U. Ms. von der Leyen has not but confirmed whether or not she is going to search the publish once more.
“We will be at Ukraine’s side every step of the way. For as long as it takes,” stated Ms. von der Leyen, one of the vital vocal and steadfast of Ukraine’s supporters in Europe.
She additionally introduced that the bloc, which hosts about 4 million Ukrainian refugees, will proceed affording them a particular standing that robotically grants them entry to well being, schooling and labor markets, for one other yr.