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Ukraine is likely to receive initial EU support on its path to membership. The European Commission is expected next week to recommend granting Ukraine candidate status, a key step on the long road to EU membership, Bloomberg reported, citing sources.

The recommendation, which is to be discussed and adopted by the College of European Commissioners, will be accompanied by conditions related to the rule of law and anti-corruption legislation.

There is no fast track to accelerating the lengthy membership process, and Ukraine still needs to overcome the objections of key states that oppose bloc expansion.

The final opinion of the European Commission, even if it is positive, will require the approval of member states before Ukraine can be formally granted status. EU leaders are set to discuss the issue in Brussels on June 23-24, and several countries have said they oppose the move, saying Ukraine cannot be given preference over existing candidates. The membership process involves a complex set of steps and conditions that can typically take more than ten years to complete.

The conclusion of the European Commission will be reportedly issued on June 17.

An EC spokesman said that work is ongoing to provide a voice ahead of the next EU summit.

Some member states, including the Netherlands, have so far opposed support for Kyiv's bid, while the majority, including Italy, support it.

Countries including Poland, Lithuania and Ireland said at a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday that they want EU leaders to decide on a clear outcome and grant candidate status, according to officials familiar with the talks. Estonia stressed the need to give hope to Ukraine.

Germany said the result could be conditional status for the candidate, officials said.

In a diplomatic note seen by Bloomberg, Denmark said that Ukraine does not sufficiently meet the criteria related to the stability of institutions that guarantee democracy, the rule of law, human rights, respect and protection of minorities. Kyiv will need to fundamentally improve its legislative and institutional framework to make progress on all these fronts, the note said.

Copenhagen believes that Ukraine is generally at a very early stage in its readiness to commit itself to EU membership and create a functioning market economy or become competitive in the single market.

Candidate status, if granted, officially launches the EU membership procedure. Croatia was the last country to join the EU and the process took 10 years before it was formally admitted in 2013.

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