EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrived in Kyiv on Saturday for talks on Ukraine’s EU membership application. In the capital of the country attacked by Russia, the top German politician wanted to discuss, among other things, open points in the application for admission with President Volodymyr Zelenskyj and Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal.

In addition, it should be about the long-term help of the EU in repairing the damage caused by the war.

“We will take stock of the joint efforts required for reconstruction and of Ukraine’s progress on its European path,” said von der Leyen on her arrival in Kyiv on Saturday morning. “This will feed into our assessment, which we will present shortly.”

The European Commission is expected to publish its assessment next Friday on whether Ukraine should be granted candidate status for EU membership. Linked to such a recommendation would probably be reform commitments in areas such as the rule of law or the fight against corruption.

The decision on whether Ukraine will be granted candidate status lies with the EU states and must be taken unanimously. The EU summit on 23./24. June should deal with it.

However, the views of the countries sometimes differ widely, although the decision on candidate status does not anticipate the admission decision and is also not linked to a time frame. For example, Turkey has been an EU accession candidate since 1999.

In March, shortly after the start of the Russian war of aggression on February 24, Ukraine submitted an application for acceptance into the EU. The EU states instructed the EU Commission to deal with it and to make a recommendation.

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The issue is controversial within the EU. There has been little open rejection recently, but some states are at least skeptical. These include France and the Netherlands.

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has not yet taken a clear position, but he has emphasized that he will not accept any special rules for Ukraine’s accelerated EU accession. He also pointed out that this was not fair to the six countries in the Western Balkans, which are also hoping to join the EU. Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Albania are already EU accession candidates. Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina are still waiting for this status. Scholz is traveling to the Balkans this weekend.

Von der Leyen’s trip to Kyiv is her second since the war began on February 24. For security reasons, it was not announced publicly in advance.

In April, von der Leyen visited the Kiev suburb of Butscha, where war crimes had recently become public. At that time, she presented Selensky with the list of questions that her authority uses to assess Ukraine’s EU ambitions.