Status: 06/11/2022 5:31 p.m
In order to clarify final questions on Ukraine’s EU membership application, EU Commission President von der Leyen visited Kyiv again. She didn’t look at the cards. An analysis for decision-making should be available next week.
The EU Commission intends to complete an assessment of Ukraine’s EU membership application by the end of next week. This was announced by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during her visit to Kyiv. On the fringes of talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, she praised the well-functioning administration. At the same time, von der Leyen appealed to the country to strengthen the rule of law, fight corruption and modernize institutions. Basically, she acknowledged Ukraine’s “enormous efforts and determination” on its way to the EU.
Zelenskyj declared that his country would do everything to integrate into the Union. “Russia wants to split Europe, wants to weaken Europe,” he said. Von der Leyen said the EU Commission was working “day and night” on an assessment of Ukraine’s suitability as a candidate country.
EU Commission President von der Leyen for talks in Kyiv
Jens Eberl, WDR, daily news at 8:00 p.m., June 11, 2022
EU Commission makes recommendation
In March, shortly after the Russian war of aggression began on February 24, Ukraine applied for EU membership. The EU states then instructed the EU Commission to make a recommendation as to whether Ukraine should be given the status of a candidate country.
For Ukraine, the path to the EU is of crucial importance, as President Zelenskyy reiterated today. “The Ukrainian people have already made a huge contribution in defending common freedom and common values,” he said. “A positive response from the European Union to Ukraine’s application for EU membership can be a positive answer to the question of whether there is any future for the European project at all.” Zelenskyi stressed that Ukrainians are aware that candidate status is only the beginning of the European path.
Divided opinion in the EU
Von der Leyen left open which recommendation your authority will make next week. It is possible that she is in favor of unrestricted candidate status. However, the status of a potential accession candidate or a postponement of the decision would also be conceivable. Based on the recommendation, the EU states must then unanimously decide how to proceed. This is to happen at an EU summit on June 23rd and 24th.
The views of the EU states have so far diverged widely, although the decision on candidate status does not anticipate the admission decision and is also not linked to a time frame. For example, Turkey has been an EU accession candidate since 1999.
German attitude unclear
States such as Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, as well as Italy and Ireland, are strongly in favor of making Ukraine a candidate for the EU as quickly as possible. This is “an important political message that we have to send as soon as possible,” said Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda on Tuesday after talks with Chancellor Olaf Scholz. France, the Netherlands and Denmark, on the other hand, are skeptical.
It is not yet clear how Germany will position itself. While members of the government such as Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) are clearly in favor of Ukraine’s candidate status, Chancellor Scholz has not yet made a clear statement. He merely emphasized that he would not accept any special rules for Ukraine’s accelerated EU accession. The SPD politician also pointed out that this was not fair to the six countries in the western Balkans, such as Serbia or North Macedonia, which are also hoping to join the EU.
Zelenskyj calls for another package of sanctions
Commission chief von der Leyen’s trip was her second trip to Ukraine since the beginning of the war. For safety reasons, the trip was not publicly announced in advance. Like the first time, it took twelve hours by train from southern Poland to Kyiv. The talks also included the long-term reconstruction of Ukraine. A visit to a hospital and a walk across the central Maidan Square were also part of the program. In April, von der Leyen visited the Kiev suburb of Butscha, where war crimes had recently become public.
During today’s visit, President Zelenskyy called for another package of sanctions against Russia. According to his will, this should affect all Russian officials and judges who support the war. All Russian banks should be sanctioned without exception. “The European Union must work more quickly on a complete abandonment of all Russian energy sources,” emphasized the 44-year-old. However, von der Leyen had already made it clear that no major sanctions packages were pending for the time being. Instead, work should be done to close loopholes and combat the circumvention of sanctions.