The European Union’s executive arm recommended on Wednesday that the bloc open membership talks with Ukraine, an encouraging step for the government in Kyiv in what remains a long and arduous joining process.
The recommendation from the executive, the European Commission, comes with the caveat that Ukraine must take steps to address corruption, protect minorities and limit the power of oligarchs.
The final decision on opening the talks rests with the leaders of the 27 E.U. member nations, and they are expected to discuss the question at a summit meeting next month, potentially clearing the way for the start of detailed negotiations.
Such a move would represent a strong political signal about the European Union’s support for Ukraine, which is battling to maintain backing from its allies in the face of a stagnating counteroffensive against Russia while much of the world’s attention turns to Israel’s war with Hamas.
“Ukraine continues to face tremendous hardship and tragedy provoked by Russia’s war of aggression,” said Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission. “And yet the Ukrainians are deeply reforming their country, even as they are fighting a war that is existential for them.”
The E.U. granted Ukraine conditional candidate status last year, and the commission said on Wednesday that the country had fulfilled 90 percent of the changes required to progress to fuller talks.
The commission also recommended starting negotiations with Moldova, a neighbor of Ukraine that has been fighting off threats of Russian interference, and with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The process of joining the European Union normally takes more than a decade.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine praised the Commission’s recommendation in an address published in social media.
“Today, the history of Ukraine and the whole of Europe has taken the right step,” Mr. Zelensky said. “Ukrainians have always been and remain part of our common European family. Our country must be in the European Union.”
Constant Méheut contributed reporting from Kyiv, Ukraine.