Ukraine and Moldova on Thursday evening officially became candidates for European Union membership after the bloc's 27 heads of state unanimously approved the status during a summit in Brussels.
Georgia was meanwhile granted European perspective, as recommended by the European Commission.
EU leaders will also discuss ways to accelerate the export of grains stuck in Ukraine as well as a French proposal to create a so-called European Political Community to enable European countries that are not member states to forge closer relations with the bloc.
They kicked off the day though with the leaders of Western Balkan countries whose respective bids to join the EU started over a decade ago.
Follow the action-packed day live in the blog below.
That's it from us from this "historic" day. We'll come back tomorrow with some more live action. Till then, have a good night!
Leaders still discussing Wider Europe
EU leaders are still behind closed doors discussing Wider Europe, i.e, a European political Community as outlined by Macron.
They are expected to deliver conclusions on this later tonight but there should be no press conference.
Enlargement not the best geopolitical perspective: Macron
There seems to be some confusion about what the French president said earlier over the EU's enlargement process and the candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova.
"For Moldova and Ukraine, very clearly, it is linked to the context. And yes, it's a political message, I totally assume it," he told reporters before adding that "we must have a neighbourhood that doesn't live with us."
"Otherwise, it means that the European Union has limits only at the limits of Europe and that it is the only political existence in Europe," he went on, adding that enlargement is somewhat incompatible with the bloc's desire to be more integrated and which has made the membership process a lot harder in recent years.
He then said that that is why another community is needed, but that as it doesn't yet exist, offering candidate status was necessary.
"I simply think that in the moment that we had, after NATO had said no to Ukrainian membership, for good reasons, we would have made a political mistake and left a vacuum if we had not reached out to Ukraine and Moldova. Because this political community does not exist today and we could not leave a strategic and geopolitical vacuum. That is the meaning of this European perspective and of this recognition of candidate status," he said.
'European Council ready to grant status of candidate country to Bosnia', EU leaders say in conclusions
As part of the European Council's conclusions on the Western Balkans, EU leaders said they are "ready to grant the status of candidate country to Bosnia and Herzegovina."
The EU Council said it invites the Commission to report back on Bosnia's progress in implementing reforms in order to decide on candidate status.
It called on political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina to "urgently finalise the constitutional and electoral reform which will allow the country to advance decisively on its European path, in line with the opinion of the Commission."
Bosnia’s candidate status has been on hold since 2019, when the Commission issued a 14-point agenda of reforms needed to receive the bloc’s approval.
Recently, the country has been mired in the deepest political crisis in decades, effectively freezing any progress regarding these reforms.
'Unequivocal & strong signal' for Moldova: Maia Sandu
The President of Moldova, Maia Sandu, has welcomed the decision of EU leaders in Brussels to grant the country candidate status as "historic".
"An unequivocal and strong signal of support for our citizens and Moldova's European future. We are grateful and committed to advancing on the path of reforms," she added.
What about Georgia?
Georgia has fallen short of becoming an official candidate to join the European Union.
While Ukraine and Moldova were granted the coveted status by EU leaders, Georgia was simply recognised as a “European perspective,” a sort of prelude to candidacy devoid of legal implications.
The country has suffered from political instability in recent years and has been asked to undergo a series of reforms before any formal step is taken.
“I’m convinced it’s extremely important for the people of the country to implement the fundamental reforms: the fight against corruption, the independence of justice. And we’re very close with all the Georgian institutions in order for them to make progress,” said European Council Charles Michel, who last year helped broker an agreement between the country’s main political parties.
“I’m confident if there’s a political will in the political landscape within Georgia, then it could be possible for them to make huge progress. They know exactly what’s needed to take steps in the right direction.”
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said her message to the Georgian people is "the enormous desire you have and belonging to the European Union is the strongest push on the path forward to the European Union.”
“There has been a lot of political progress, now what is needed is to deliver on a few reforms that are important and to show political unity, to engage political society and to move forward on these reforms and then the next steps are within reach," she added.
French President Emmanuel Macron called it nonetheless a “historic day” for Georgia.
“We have all seen the will of your president, the very clear message that she sent, and the will of the people who came out in the street, which called for Europe,” Macron said.
“And so I think that it is necessary around this arc of will and appetite for Europe that political unity and the necessary reforms are built.”
Tens of thousands of demonstrators had marched in the capital in favour of EU membership as the European Commission gave its opinion last week that Georgia must first carry out political and other reforms before it can qualify for the status.