In an interview with five European publications, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she cannot say exactly when Ukraine will join the EU, as the time frame depends on two factors, internal EU processes and the progress of reforms in Ukraine. At the same time, von der Leyen emphasized that in the long run, Ukraine and the Balkans “cannot but integrate into the EU.”

Some Russian media and pro-Kremlin social media accounts are spreading fakes claiming that the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated that Ukraine will become a member of the European Union only in 20-30 years.

Von der Leyen however, never said any such thing. Her words were taken out of context and distorted. These Russian fake claims stem from a June 22 interview with five European media, which she gave during her stay in London at a conference  about Ukraine’s recovery.

In the interview, von der Leyen stated that the EU actively supports Ukraine on its way to European Union membership. Seven conditions were set for Ukrainian membership, two of which have already been met. The remaining five are in the process of being fulfilled. “Ukrainians enacted incredible reforms while at war. I really admire how they manage to conduct this parliamentary process. They have big problems with corruption, and they know that they have a unique opportunity to win the trust of donors and the private sector,” von der Leyen noted.

When asked when Ukraine will become a member of the European Union, the European Commission President noted that she cannot name an exact date, since the terms of Ukraine’s accession to the EU depend on two factors: internal EU processes and the reform process in Ukraine. Ms. von der Leyen also emphasized that “in 20-30 years, the European Union will be unthinkable without Ukraine and the Western Balkan countries.”

“Looking ahead twenty or thirty years, can we imagine that this region is not part of the European Union? Otherwise, it would fall under Russia’s and China’s influence. Is this really what we want? The war is such a turning point that we can no longer  follow a hesitant approach: in the long term perspective,  Ukraine and the Balkans cannot but integrate into the EU,” von der Leyen said.

She also emphasized that even without full membership, Ukraine already has access to certain European programs, particularly, in the energy sector.
On June 23, 2022, the European Parliament voted to grant Ukraine the status of an EU candidate. Previously, StopFake has debunked  many similar fakes about Ukraine’s European integration  stories such as  Fake: EU Сandidate Status Means Little for Ukraine, Fake: Europeans Do Not Want Ukraine in the EU and Manipulation: EU Demands Ukraine Make Concessions to Russia, Says Former Foreign Affairs Advisor.