EU’s Von Der Leyen Praises Ukraine’s Progress on Membership Bid

(Bloomberg) -- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that Ukraine is making swift progress on reforms and can quickly become a member of the European Union.

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“I am amazed to see how Ukraine is doing very difficult reforms while they are fighting a war,” she said in an interview late Tuesday on Bloomberg Television in New York. “If they keep the pace — and I see they’re absolutely motivated — this is a decisive moment.”

She stressed that the process is merit-based and declined to offer a specific timeline, but she said she’s convinced that Kyiv will eventually succeed in its membership bid.

The EU is under pressure to accelerate the membership process for Ukraine, but the ongoing war — and earlier applications from several other countries, particularly in the Western Balkans — are complicating the debate.

Read more: EU Girds for Tough Enlargement Debate With Wary Eye on Russia

Von der Leyen, who runs the EU’s executive arm, also said she’s confident the bloc will be able to deliver on its pledge this spring to supply Ukraine with 1 million rounds of ammunition within 12 months.

“We’re pushing the industry, the military industrial base, very strongly,” she said. “There’s a lot of focus on it. We do our best and we work hard to deliver.”

Read more: EU Set to Double Output of Artillery Shells After Slow Start

The bloc is also in the early stages of debating its 12th package of sanctions over Russia’s war in Ukraine. EU member states are divided on what measures to include in the package.

The new measures, which could be presented as early as next month, would likely include the EU’s version of the upcoming Group of Seven ban on purchases of diamonds from Moscow. They could also include a proposal to tax the profits generated by frozen central bank assets to aid Kyiv.

A group of member states, including Poland and the Baltic nations, want to go even further, calling for additional sanctions on LNG and information technology services. The group of countries has also urged restrictions on Russia’s nuclear sector. But those attempts have been opposed many times before, with sanctions decisions requiring unanimous support.

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