Joining the EU only in decades
Macron drastically undermines Ukraine’s hopes
Ukraine expects more security and support from EU membership. The admission procedure could be accelerated, but French President Macron is giving little hope.
French President Emmanuel Macron has dampened hopes of Ukraine’s upcoming EU membership. The process could take “decades”, Macron said in a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Instead, he called for increased cooperation with Kyiv. The European Commission intends to present its official statement on Ukraine’s membership application in June.
Macron has proposed the creation of a “European political community” for Ukraine and the other candidate countries. It could “allow a new space for political cooperation, security and cooperation”, declared the Head of State. France is one of the countries that has recently been skeptical about EU enlargement.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy applied to join the EU shortly after Russia invaded his country. The European Commission is expected to make its official statement on the matter in June, as Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Twitter after a phone call with Selenskyj. If Brussels recommends candidate status for Ukraine to the 27 member states and all countries agree, the actual membership negotiations could begin.
A necessary institutional reform
In the long process, the candidate country must prove that it complies with EU regulations, the so-called acquis. Georgia and Moldova also hope to join the European Union. These two former Soviet republics also see themselves as possible targets of Russian aggression. In addition, a number of Balkan countries have been waiting for some time for progress in the EU accession process.
Macron and von der Leyen were also open to changing the EU treaties, which the European Parliament is also calling for. “I support institutional reform,” Macron stressed. This should already be discussed at the European summit on June 23 and 24. France will hold the presidency of the Council until the end of June. Von der Leyen said EU treaties should be changed “if necessary”. Macron and von der Leyen were reacting to the final declaration of the so-called future conference for Europe.
End of the principle of unanimity?
Citizens’ representatives presented EU leaders in Strasbourg with more than 300 proposals for a better and more democratic Europe. They would sometimes require changes to the EU treaties. This applies, for example, to requests for the extension of EU competences in the health sector or the right of the European Parliament to propose laws. However, contract changes are considered extremely complicated and time-consuming.
In his own words, von der Leyen advocates an extension of majority decisions between the 27 member states. Decisions based on the principle of unanimity “simply no longer make sense in some important areas if we want to move faster,” von der Leyen said. Berlin’s traffic light coalition also wants to advance majority decisions in the EU. In the field of foreign policy in particular, however, countries like Hungary and Poland insist on the principle of unanimity.
13 EU countries have come out against changing the EU treaties. There is a “serious risk” that political energy will be diverted from “urgent geopolitical challenges for Europe”, they said, referring to the war in Ukraine. The signatories of the letter published by Sweden on Twitter are Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, Finland and the Baltic States.