The European Union’s prime official on Wednesday referred to as for a serious growth of the bloc to incorporate not solely Ukraine but additionally 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 Fee, stated that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had pushed Europe to reply “to the decision of historical past.”
“In a world the place dimension and weight matter, it’s clearly in Europe’s strategic and safety curiosity to finish our Union,” she stated in her annual State of the European Union handle on the European Parliament within the French metropolis of Strasbourg.
Ms. von der Leyen stated that the aspiring new members ought to endure 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 regulation — which includes rooting out corruption — needs to be on the coronary heart of their accession.
The carefully watched handle 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’s going to search the publish once more.
“We shall be at Ukraine’s facet each step of the way in which. For so long as it takes,” stated Ms. von der Leyen, one of the 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 routinely grants them entry to well being, training and labor markets, for an additional yr.
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