Ukraine needs 'hard work, determination' to join EU, says von der Leyen

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives a speech at a European Parliament plenary in Brussels, Belgium, March 1, 2022. (Photo: Xinhua)

BRUSSELS, July 1 (Xinhua) -- Ukraine's bid to join the European Union (EU) is "within reach" but requires "hard work, determination and above all unity of purpose," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday.

Addressing the Ukrainian parliament via video link, she said the path towards EU membership required reforms in many areas including tackling corruption. She also took note of the steps Ukraine had already taken in this direction.

"You have created an impressive anti-corruption machine. But now these institutions need teeth, and the right people in senior posts," she said.

Von der Leyen said Ukraine should appoint new heads for the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office and National Anti-Corruption Bureau as soon as possible.

She also highlighted the need to reform Ukraine's constitutional court, which requires legislation outlining selection procedures for judges, in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission.

"Many of the laws and institutions you need are already in place. Now is the time to translate rules and bodies into positive and enduring change," she said.

Von der Leyen was addressing the Ukrainian parliament following the approval of Ukraine and Moldova as candidates for EU membership on June 23.

Ukraine applied for EU membership shortly after the conflict with Russia had begun at the end of February. The country handed over its application on Feb. 28, while Moldova applied for EU membership on March 3.