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On Support for Ukraine’s European Path

A group of ministers and representatives of Member States of the European Union met in Brussels in  the margins of 21 March EU Foreign Affairs Council to discuss how best to promote and support Ukraine's European path. 

Those present condemned Russia's unprovoked and unjustifiable war against Ukraine, which is causing untold suffering of the Ukrainian people and has created the biggest wave of displacement and refugees in Europe, not seen since World War II. 

They expressed profound admiration for Ukraine's bravery and courage in defending their land from Russia's aggression and agreed that Ukraine is defending not just itself but all of us, our values and principles, our democracy, and our right to freely choose our partnerships and alliances, which is an inherent right of every nation. 

In their fight for freedom and democracy the Ukrainians are demonstrating that they are true Europeans in spirit and in deed. We cannot and must not fail to stand up for Ukraine in its existential battle for its survival as a free and sovereign nation. While reiterating our unwavering support for Ukraine's independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, we must also support Ukraine's European path by concrete action. 

We are therefore establishing an informal group of friends of European Ukraine, or EUkraine, with a view to providing all the necessary political and practical assistance to promote and realise Ukraine's EU choice. 

The EU Heads of State and Government in their informal meeting in Versailles on 10-11 March acknowledged the application for EU membership signed by President Volodymyr Zelensky. The Council has acted swiftly and invited the European Commission  to prepare a respective avis. We will engage actively with all the parties involved to ensure that the opinion on the application is prepared without delay. 

We have agreed to work with all EU Member States and EU institutions to make sure that the European Council will also explicitly recognize a clear European perspective for Ukraine and that it will be granted a candidate status.

We have agreed to continue providing all the necessary support and advice to Ukraine's Government as it engages with EU institutions on all matters arising from its EU membership application. 

Like the EU itself and its enlargement policy, the EUkraine group is open to all who support Ukraine's EU aspirations to join. 

These are no ordinary times, which require no ordinary steps. While fully cognisant and respectful of existing EU procedures for countries seeking EU membership, we believe that the EU should continue to send Ukraine clear and unequivocal signals regarding its future with the EU.

As seen from decades of EU enlargement, the prospect of EU membership is a most powerful tool for peaceful transformation and growth, as well as for anchoring the democratic freedoms and values that bind us together. This applies for Western Balkans as well as for Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, which have just recently submitted their membership applications. Today, as these values and freedoms are under increasing attack from the world's authoritarians, keeping the EU doors open is as important as never before. 

Ukraine is proving every day with its courage and, tragically, the blood of its people, that it is part of our European family of values. The time for EU to act is now.