Ukraine and the EU have never been closer, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday.
Addressing the 8th Cohesion Forum in a video message, von der Leyen reassured the Ukrainian people that the EU will keep supporting the country and welcome refugees as “they are part of the European family.”
“Ukraine and the European Union have never been closer,” she said, stressing that images of Europeans welcoming Ukrainian refugees “show hope” next to the “devastating” scenes of war.
She explained that the European Commission presented last week a package that allows EU member states to use cohesion funds to “welcome Ukrainian refugees quickly and humanely,” by setting up reception centers, mobile hospitals, and providing education, language training, and employment support.
The measures include, among others, banning the export of luxury goods to Russia, targeting President Russian Vladimir Putin, top diplomat Sergey Lavrov, oligarchs, and military officers, as well as excluding Russian and Belarusian banks from the SWIFT international banking system and banning broadcasting activities of Sputnik and RT media outlets.
Last week, EU leaders discussed Ukraine’s EU membership application that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy requested three weeks ago.
At least 780 civilians have been killed so far in Ukraine, and 1,252 injured, according to UN estimates. It has warned, however, that the true toll is likely much higher as it has not been able to gain access to areas of increased hostilities.