Ukraine should achieve political stability and approve economic reforms in order to move closer to the European Union, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Monday after a meeting in Brussels with Ukrainian Premier Yulia Tymoshenko, according to DPA. "Ukraine is getting closer and closer to the European Union," Barroso said, adding that "political stability based on democracy and the rule of law" was essential to "allow Ukraine to pick up the pace of political and economic reform."

      The EU executive chief welcomed the formation of a new government under Tymoshenko, saying the 27-member bloc was ready to support the reform process in Ukraine.

      "We are confident that political stability can become a reality in the Ukraine," Barroso said.

      Tymoshenko was on her first visit to Brussels since her government and the EU came to an agreement that paves the way for Ukraine to join the World Trade Organization (WTO).

      Barroso said Ukraine`s WTO membership, expected in the coming days, would allow the two sides to sign a free trade area agreement and bring Ukraine and the EU closer together through a New Enhanced Agreement (NEA). Tymoshenko said she expected NEA negotiations with the EU to be completed by "the end of the current year."

      The premier also thanked Barroso for his support, saying her country now enjoyed "a sense of unity" as far as European integration was concerned.

      "Indeed, the time has come for our relationship to take on an entirely new nature," Tymoshenko said.

      While in Brussels, Tymoshenko planned to discuss the free trade agreement with EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson and discuss energy-related issues with energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs.