The heads of state of the European Union have ruled out Ukraine’s rapid accession, but promise aid and a gradual integration of the country into the EU.
The European Union’s heads of state or government, meeting on Thursday at a summit in Versailles, ruled out Ukraine’s rapid accession to the EU, but nevertheless opened the door to closer ties with the country. “There is no quick procedure,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte recalled, as Kiev submitted a candidacy in hopes of joining “without delay”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky later said that Europe must “do more” for Ukraine. “We have to go faster. This is not what we expect,” said Volodymyr Zelensky.
The President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron – while France currently holds the rotating EU presidency – explained on several occasions on Thursday and Friday the reasons for the slowness of the process, but also for European reluctance to integrate Ukraine into the Union.
“You have to be very careful”
“We must send a strong signal” to Ukraine, but “at the same time, we must be vigilant,” the French president said on Thursday. “Can we open accession proceedings today with a country at war? I don’t think so. Should we close the door and say ‘never’? It would be unfair. Can we forget the balances of the region? We have to be very careful.”
In this sense, Europe continues to send aid in various forms (arms, financing, humanitarian aid…) for the time being, promising greater integration into them, without joining immediately.
“In the coming months we will have to rethink very deeply what our Europe is,” explains Emmanuel Macron. “Geopolitics and the return of war and tragedy in Europe, the return of historical revisionism, desires for power and hegemony, force us to think about how we want to organize a greater Europe”.
Other countries pending
The head of state also recalled that in recent days two other countries had formally applied to join the European Union: Moldova and Georgia. Requests that also raise many questions within the European community.
Thus, the President of the Republic called the case of Moldova “so fragile neighbor, with Transnistria” [État indépendant pro-russe autoproclamé en Moldavie]the presence of external forces, dependence on Russian gas and refugees arriving… We cannot abandon Moldova on this road”.
He also recalled that other countries have been waiting for years to join the European Union. Five states are therefore officially candidates: Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.
“Can this war make us forget the process that the Western Balkan states have been in for several years, who want to join us, who are also vulnerable, who are affected by geopolitical destabilization? The answer is no,” he underlined. Emmanuel Macron.
“Ukraine is part of the European family”
Nevertheless, Europe’s heads of state and representatives have reiterated on many occasions during these two days that they would support Ukraine in this war and help it rebuild itself afterwards.
“Your path is with us, our family is yours,” said Emmanuel Macron. “Ukraine is part of the European family,” said Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission. “We need to hear the statement of support at European level” said Charles Michel, President of the European Council, this Friday:“A statement of support for Ukraine which is a member of the European family, support for the choice of Ukraine which has chosen to apply”.
As required by the procedure, the European Commission will have to issue an opinion on Ukraine’s application for membership. The council handed it over to the committee “very quickly”, assures Charles Michel, while this process alone can sometimes take years. Then you have to go through Parliament and then again through the European Council.
To become a member of the European Union, many criteria must be met, in particular to have “stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, respect for minorities and their protection”, explains the website Tout L’Europe. It is also necessary to have a functioning market economy, to subscribe to the EU’s objectives and to demonstrate its ability to integrate the different institutions.