European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has reaffirmed that Ukraine, the Western Balkans and Moldova have their place in the Union.
Such a remark by von der Leyen was made in his State of the Union speech on September 13, which marks the start of the working year for the EU, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
In his speech this year, von der Leyen decided to maintain the focus on EU enlargement, saying this move is very important for the bloc’s countries as well as those who join it in the future.
Von der Leyen stressed that “the future is clear to see” and, at the same time, stressed that Ukraine, the Western Balkans and Moldova belong to the EU.
The future of Ukraine lies in our Union. The future of the Western Balkans lies in our Union. The future of Moldova lies in our Union. And I know how important the European perspective is for many people in Georgia.
In his speech, von der Leyen said that joining the EU was not an easy path. However, she stressed that there is already a lot of progress and determination from these countries.
Furthermore, von der Leyen stressed that membership is based on merit and that the Commission will always defend this principle, suggesting that candidate countries must meet all conditions.
While von der Leyen warned that EU membership must be based on merit, she further argued that the next enlargement must be a catalyst for progress.
According to her, “Team Europe” can work with more than 30 member states, and a union suitable for enlargement can be achieved more quickly.
We have proven that we can be a geopolitical union and that we can move forward quickly when we are united. And I believe that Team Europe also works at 30 and over.
Von der Leyen’s speech also contained words for Romania and Bulgaria, which have so far been denied entry into the Schengen area.
Von der Leyen said the two countries are examples of best practices in asylum and migrant returns.
They have proven it: Bulgaria and Romania are part of our Schengen area. So let’s finally get them involved – without further ado.
As for Ukraine, von der Leyen said the EU would continue to provide support to the country and announced that the Commission would propose extending temporary protection to Ukrainians in the bloc.