Live news updates from June 17: European Commission supports Ukraine’s EU bid, US stocks fall most since March 2020

The European Commission has recommended Ukraine for candidate status to become a member of the EU.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the commission, said on Friday that the EU’s executive believes Ukraine should be given the status on the proviso that it continues to make reforms aimed at bringing it in line with EU regulations. These reforms include the rule of law, anti-corruption, and its judiciary system.

“Ukraine has clearly demonstrated the country’s aspirations and determination to live up to European values and standards,” von der Leyen told reporters, noting the EC had “very carefully” assessed “the merits” of its application.

Kyiv applied for membership shortly after the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24th.

While a significant step, the commission’s opinion must now be endorsed by each of the EU’s 27 member states at a summit of leaders to be held next Thursday and Friday.

Some countries, including Denmark, the Netherlands and Portugal, have voiced misgivings over the move, and discussions are not expected to be straightforward.

Ukraine’s bid received a significant boost on Thursday with the joint visit of French president Emmanuel Macron, German chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Italian prime minister Mario Draghi to Kyiv, where the EU’s three most powerful leaders endorsed its desire to join the bloc.

However, even if Ukraine is granted candidate status by the 27 countries next week, it faces a long and arduous process before actually being made a member of the EU.

The most recent country to join the EU, Croatia, took nine years to become a member after being granted candidate status in 2004, while North Macedonia has been an official candidate country since 2005. Albania, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey are also candidate countries.

Von der Leyen also said the commission recommended candidate status for Moldova, on similar terms to Ukraine. However, she said Georgia’s status as a…

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