LONDON — The European Parliament voted on Thursday in favor of granting European Union candidate status to Ukraine as fighting in the war-torn country continues, four months after the Russian invasion.
Of the 588 votes, an overwhelming 529 were in support of the resolution while just 45 were against it; 14 officials abstained from the proposal. Politicians also approved EU candidacy for Georgia and Moldova.
The Parliament called on all “Heads of State or Government … to grant EU candidate status to Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova ‘without delay,’” according to a press release. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) also called on leaders to grant Georgia candidacy, but only when “‘its government has delivered’ on the priorities indicated by the European Commission.”
The chair of the Ukrainian Parliament thanked MEPs for their vote and for adopting the resolution. “Once again, European Parliament demonstrates its unwavering support for Ukraine's EU aspirations,” Ruslan Stefanchuk wrote on Facebook.
“Thank you, [European Parliament President] Roberta Metsola, for adopting the relevant symbolic resolution today. Ukraine is EU country. And we fight for this right not only on the battlefield but also in the legal sphere.”
In order for countries to join the bloc, they will be required to carry out a series of political and economic reforms. According to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Ukraine “has already implemented roughly 70% of EU rules, norms and standards.” She added, however, that much needs to be done in the areas of “the rule of law, oligarchs, anticorruption and fundamental rights."
The European Council, which contains the heads of all governments in the 27-member bloc, will have the final vote. If one or more of the members do not support the decision, the resolution does not go through, as the council operates on a consensus result.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he had spoken to 11 bloc leaders following nine calls with other leaders the day before. Zelensky said the meeting would be a “historic session of the European Council.”