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Von der Leyen, Zelenskyy Joint Press Conference Highlights

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Thank you very much, President Zelenskyy, dear Volodymyr, for hosting me again. It is good to be back in Kyiv. We had a very good meeting. We have indeed discussed many important topics. I want to have a look at three points that I want to highlight here.

First, and most important, of course, is Ukraine’s accession path to the European Union. I must say that you have made excellent progress – this is impressive to see.

We will testify to this next week when the Commission will present its report on enlargement. I want to tell you how impressed we are by the reforms you have made in the midst of a war. We should never forget that you are fighting an existential war. And, at the same time, you are deeply reforming your country. You have reached many milestones: reforming your justice system, curbing the oligarchs’ grip, tackling money laundering – and much more. This is the result of hard work.

I know that you are in the process of completing outstanding reforms. If this happens, and I am confident, Ukraine can reach its ambitious goal of moving to the next stage in the accession process. This will also be my message in the Rada this afternoon.

My second point is: You have made very important steps forward in your economic modernisation. As you reconstruct, you are modernising the country. We have supported you so far with almost EUR 83 billion. And Ukraine is set to receive further EUR 3 billion still this year. But of course, more and predictable funding is necessary to meet the current needs. So, the Commission has proposed to the Member States EUR 50 billion until 2027 in additional support. To make this work, we are developing together the Ukraine Plan. This will aim to modernise further your country, through reforms and investments. The Ukraine Plan is the key to access the EUR 50 billion. There has been very good progress. We now have to work hard need to get it over the finish line in the next few weeks.

One good example of our work on keeping the economy running are the solidarity lanes. They have so far allowed Ukraine to export over 100 million tonnes of goods. More than half of these 100 million tonnes of goods are agri-food products. So, Ukraine is feeding the world in these times of scarcity. And of course, in addition, the solidarity lanes bring much needed revenues back to Ukraine. In the last 16 months – this is the time frame since when we have had the solidarity lanes –, this has already brought revenues of EUR 42 billion back to Ukraine. In this context, I would like to commend Ukraine on its efforts to re-establish navigation on the Black Sea. More grain can leave Ukraine, from these two routes. But nevertheless, we need the solidarity lanes. Around 65% of Ukrainian agri-food products leave the country via these solidarity lanes. This is also why we are heavily investing in reinforcing these lanes – this is rail, road and border crossings. Last year, we have pledge EUR 1 billion of investment. And it is good that this amount has already been exceeded. Every effort and every euro is well invested because it anchors the Ukrainian economy in our Single Market.

My third and final point is: We will continue to make Russia pay for its war of aggression. Our existing sanctions have deeply affected the Russian economy.

Very soon, we will propose to Member States our 12th package of sanctions. There will be new listings, to hold accountable those who are involved in the military invasion and occupation of the country, but also those who are involved in the brutal abduction of children, and those who are involved in fake news and propaganda.

Furthermore, the sanctions package will include new import and export bans, and it includes actions to tighten the oil price cap. Finally, we will further crack down on sanctions circumvention. In all these topics, we are very closely coordinating with our G7 partners. Overall, Russia has to pay a price for the devastation and destruction it has caused.

And in this context, there is another example, this is the topic of the proceeds of the EUR 200 billion of immobilised Russian sovereign assets in Europe. The proceeds are accumulating every day. We believe that these profits should go in rebuilding Ukraine. And this is why the Commission will now come very soon with a proposal that allows this to happen.

Finally, dear President, dear Volodymyr: The Peace Formula meeting in Malta sent an important message of engagement. We will continue to support and promote a just and lasting peace for Ukraine. This is our common goal and rest assured that our support is unshakable.

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