Ukraine's accession to EU membership will take years rather than decades, Vera Jourova, the EU Commission's vice-president, told Czech outlet Novinky in an interview published on Dec. 30.
"Ukraine is doing an incredible job of implementing the reforms it needs and wants in the midst of the war," she said.
The European Council has agreed to open accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova on Dec. 14.
Ukraine and Moldova were granted candidate status last June, after which Kyiv was presented with seven criteria that need to be fulfilled to start accession talks with the EU.
The European Commission issued a favorable assessment of Ukraine's progress in November and recommended the launch of the accession talks.
According to the Commission's report from Nov. 8, Kyiv fulfilled four of the seven criteria pertaining to two judicial reforms, the alignment of anti-money laundering legislation, and media reform.
The EU demanded two anti-corruption laws, one anti-lobbying law and one related to minorities, as part of the requirements to enter the EU, but added that after the opening of accession talks, much more work would begin, and all Ukrainian laws had to be adapted to European legislation.
"It is the beginning of a really difficult process, and the Ukrainians report that they are ready for it," she said.
She said it would be problematic to condition Ukraine's accession talks to the country getting back all territories.
Jourova also said that as the "full membership or no membership" system doesn't exist anymore, Ukraine could move closer to the EU without being a member and gain access to the European market, albeit with restrictions.
"Ukraine can get all this before it becomes a member state," she said.