The European Commission has recommended European Union "candidate status" for Ukraine.

This is on the understanding that Ukraine can carry out a number of reforms, EC President Ursula von der Leyen told a press conference in Brussels.

She added: "Ukraine has clearly shown commitment to live up to European values and standards. And embarked, before the war, on its way towards the EU."

Ms von der Leyen said Ukraine had "already implemented roughly 70% of rules, norms and standards.

"Yet important work remains to be done, on the rule of law, oligarchs, anti-corruption and fundamental rights. The process is merits-based. So progress depends entirely on Ukraine."

She added: "Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective. We want them to live with us the European dream."

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the decision. He said: "It's the first step on the EU membership path that will certainly bring our victory closer."

He was "grateful" to Ms von der Leyen and "each EC member for a historic decision".

Ukraine's Minister for Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba hailed it as "history in the making".

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he "strongly welcomed" the commission's recommendation to give Ukraine and Moldova candidate status for EU membership.

"I have long advocated for this outcome and I will be arguing strongly that it be endorsed by the European Council when it meets next week."

He added: "If endorsed by the European Council, as I expect that it will, it will place Ukraine on a firm path towards EU membership, where it belongs.

"Every sovereign country has a right to determine its own future, free from external pressure and duress. The people of Ukraine have chosen a future in the European Union and they deserve our full support."

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Fianna Fáil MEP for Dublin Barry Andrews said Ukraine deserves to become members of the EU as they are fighting for the concept of what being European stands for.

Mr Andrews said there will be obstacles ahead and that the membership process usually takes ten years or longer.

He added that the "EU expands by invitation while Russia expands by invasion".

The European Commission also recommended Moldova be designated as a candidate for membership.

A third former Soviet republic, Georgia, was asked to meet certain conditions before being granted the same status.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said today he had "no objections" to Ukraine joining the European Union.

"We have nothing against it. It is not a military bloc. It's the right of any country to join economic unions," he replied, when asked about the prospects of Ukraine joining the EU.

He was speaking at the St Petersburg Economic Forum.

While today's recommendation marks a strategic eastward shift by the EU in the face of Russia's war in Ukraine, it would likely take Ukraine years to become a member of the 27-nation EU, if at all.

Ukraine would be required to carry out economic and political reforms and it is unlikely the bloc would take in a country in a state of war.

At times of peace, it took Poland - Ukraine's neighbour with similar population size and communist history - ten years from applying for membership in 1994 to actually joining in 2004.

Turkey, on the other hand, got formal candidate status in 1999, but currently has no prospect of joining.

Membership talks stopped as ties between the Turkish government and the bloc soured, including over President Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown on critics following an attempted 2016 coup, and other examples of what the EU says is erosion of democracy and the rule of law.

EU leaders will discuss the commission's membership candidate proposal for Ukraine during a summit in Brussels on 23-24 June. They all need to agree for the status to be formally granted.

Once that happens, Ukraine will start negotiations on aligning its laws with those of the EU under 35 so-called "chapters", or thematic areas from financial to justice to climate.

A chapter is closed when the candidate country shows it has already implemented EU laws in that field. All 35 must be closed for accession.

Ukraine would be required to reform its economy and strengthen its democratic institutions, including to fight corruption.

It will have to beef up legal protections and track record on everything from human rights to market competition.

If and when all this is done, the EU and Ukraine will prepare an accession treaty. It must be approved by Ukraine, all EU governments and the European Parliament.

It comes as the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said it is in talks with the BBC "to potentially host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest" in the UK after concluding next year's contest cannot be held in war-torn Ukraine.