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Taoiseach hails EU moves to boost Ukraine with ‘membership candidate status’


Taoiseach Micheál Martin at Dublin Castle. Photo Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Taoiseach Micheál Martin at Dublin Castle. Photo Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Taoiseach Micheál Martin at Dublin Castle. Photo Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

The Taoiseach will fly to Brussels on Thursday for a two-day EU leaders’ summit which will grant membership candidate status to embattled Ukraine and neighbouring Moldova.

The move is hailed as a strong signal against Russian aggression telling President Putin he cannot revive the Soviet empire by force though both countries face a long membership application process.

The summit will also discuss the EU’s interlinked inflation and fuel price crises, and also meet with leaders of six states from the western Balkans, while the leaders of the 19 nations, which use the euro, will also have a separate meeting.

Brussels officials said it is expected the leaders will make an historic decision to confirm EU candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova in line with the policy-guiding European Commission’s recommendations last Friday.

Speaking ahead of the visit, the Taoiseach welcomed the move on Ukraine and Moldova which he has strongly supported for some time.

“I have argued strongly that Ukraine be granted candidate status at this week’s European Council. The people of Ukraine have chosen a future in the European Union and they and Moldova deserve our full support,” Mr Martin said.

“Fifty years of EU membership has transformed Ireland and we stand ready to share our experience with those who wish to join. I would like to see the same opportunities extended to our Western Balkans partners also,” he added.

The leaders will also discuss the ongoing impact of Russia’s war on Ukraine, and the EU’s commitment to continuing its strong humanitarian, military, economic and financial support.

They will also condemn Russia’s weaponising of food supplies, stealing grain, and blocking ports, risking famine and political and social instability, especially in vulnerable countries.

On Friday, the 27 EU leaders will discuss economic issues, including in a meeting of the Eurozone summit which will hear from President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, and President of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe.

One official said all member states are facing the challenges of rising food and energy prices, inflation and interest rates.

Mr Martin said discussions on “economic challenges” on Friday will also be important.

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“We are all facing the same rising prices for energy and food, inflation and interest rates. We need to work together to strengthen the resilience of our economies, supporting our citizens and playing to our strengths, especially in deepening the single market,” Mr Martin said.

The Taoiseach said the Eurozone had demonstrated its resilience during Covid-19. He also said he will warmly welcome Croatia becoming the 20th country to join the Euro from the beginning of next year.

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