President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal signed a joint statement on the decision of the European Council to grant Ukraine the status of a candidate for EU membership. The document was signed in the session hall of the parliament during the plenary session.
“Today, we are signing a joint statement, which is a signal of the unity of all branches of government and evidence of our determination to achieve the strategic goal of Ukraine, namely: full membership in the European Union. And signing this statement should mean the same as signing the application for entry - on the fifth day of the war,” the President said.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy reminded that the record 115 days have passed between Ukraine’s submission of an application for entry and the EU’s response, during which the Ukrainian people have demonstrated the same cohesion for the sake of the European future as in the defense of our territorial integrity and sovereignty on the battlefield.
The President noted that during this time a large number of meetings, negotiations, rallies, concerts and other events were held in support of Ukraine and its European future. Also, thousands of pages of the questionnaire were filled out, the necessary procedures were completed.
According to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine's path to full membership in the EU should also be rapid, and not take years or decades.
The President called on all civil servants today to perceive their duties as a struggle for our state and to work for the European choice of Ukraine, because the Ukrainian people with weapons in their hands not only defend their independence, but also fight for a choice of values - for Ukraine to be an independent state in a free, new European family.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted that from now there will be the flag of the European Union in the Presidium of the Verkhovna Rada, which should become not just a symbol, but a task for all branches of government to prevent pauses in work and to make decisions necessary for Ukraine's European path.
"We have to prepare the state for the start of negotiations on membership as intensively and as responsibly as we prepared the decision on candidacy," he noted.
After all, the acquisition of membership in the EU is not only geopolitics or the realization of political aspirations, these are specific things, specific advantages that benefit the life of every person, every company, every state institution, the President noted. He reminded that the transport visa-free regime and aviation visa-free regime were implemented recently, access of Ukrainian goods to the European market was opened without duties and quotas, and Ukraine joined the energy network of the European Union. Customs and digital "visa-free regime" are next. Volodymyr Zelenskyy also called for speeding up work on "industrial visa-free regime" and cancellation of roaming charges between Ukraine and the EU countries on a permanent basis.
“The European path is just such decisions. Each of them strengthens our state, each of you. Together, they create new opportunities for the whole of Europe - thanks to the realization of Ukrainian potential. Europe is becoming stronger together with Ukraine,” the President said.
The Head of State emphasized: Ukrainians are aware that the European integration of Ukraine is a guarantee to all generations of our people of a free and prosperous life based on the best human values. And that is why it is an honor and a great responsibility for each and every one of us to participate in the realization of the European aspirations of our state.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked every European nation and leader who supported Ukraine's candidacy. Separately, the Head of State noted the leadership of President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in building strong historical relations between our country and Europe.
Ursula von der Leyen, who addressed the participants of the Verkhovna Rada meeting in online format, stated: Europe will stand for Ukraine as long as necessary, as the courageous Ukrainian people are fighting for their country to have a bright future.
The President of the European Commission commended the way the citizens of Ukraine united for the sake of preserving their state, democracy and ensuring the work of all institutions. As a result, Ukraine became a candidate for EU membership, which seemed like an impossible task.
"Ukraine turned to the EU regarding the candidacy a few days after the attack. And you still managed to provide us with all the information in record time. We worked day and night to support you, but it was your efforts that led to this success," said Ursula von der Leyen.
She also noted that along with supporting Ukraine in the fight against the enemy, European countries are also mobilizing efforts for its post-war reconstruction.
"Your European path and the reconstruction of Ukraine will go hand in hand. Huge investments will come to your country, and in order to increase this impact, investments must be combined with a new wave of reforms," the President of the European Commission emphasized.
She urged to continue the reforms, to turn the already adopted laws into positive changes and further development of the state.
"There is a long road ahead, but Europe is on your side. We will follow this path until you open the door leading to your bright future in the European Union," Ursula von der Leyen summed up.
The session of the Verkhovna Rada was also attended by government officials and ambassadors of EU member states. The attendees commemorated all civilians killed as a result of Russian armed aggression and brave defenders who gave their lives for Ukraine with a moment of silence.