The countries are completely at odds: Ukraine is so stony in EU policy abroad

Theoretically, it’s simple.

The Ukrainian government wants to bring the country into the EU as soon as possible. When the heads of government of the three key member states of France, Italy and Germany go to Kiev, what should they do other than spread the red and blue carpets towards Brussels?

So Scholz, Macron and Draghi said at an afternoon news conference that they too wanted to pave the way for Ukraine’s candidate status and help ensure that an agreement could be reached at next week’s EU summit.

In practice, the issue is much more complex, as the French President in particular admits. Emmanuel Macron told BFMTV that it was “a report on European unity addressed to Ukrainians and support for us to talk about the present and the future at the same time, because we know that the next few weeks will be difficult”.

BILD explains the obstacles that Ukraine must overcome on its way to the EU. And how divided the EU is when it comes to accession prospects.

It is not the three countries that decide, but 27

Even if the EU’s three political heavyweights agree (which it disagrees with), Ukraine cannot maintain the prospect of EU candidate status. Because this decision requires the consent of all 27 member states, which may not happen until the EU summit next week.

Earlier, tomorrow (June 17), the European Commission will announce its position on Ukraine’s prospects for accession. According to BILD, it is certain that the EU body, led by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, supports the demands, especially of Eastern European countries, for Ukraine to quickly become a candidate for accession.

But even the boldest optimists strongly disagree with Macron, who, given the current Ukrainian constitution, spoke of the “decades” that the accession process may take.

Volodymir Zelensky with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on April 8 during their visit to UkraineFoto: Christophe Licoppe

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Volodymir Zelensky with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on April 8 during their visit to UkrainePhoto: Christophe Licoppe

Macron wants a kind of “EU light”

The starting point that Macron has in mind is very skeptical in Brussels and also in Berlin: it is proposing a new political body that is open to non-EU members such as Ukraine, Switzerland and even the British to Brexit.

In an unofficial document first reported by Politico, Paris argues that EU enlargement will not meet Ukraine’s current needs because the process is too lengthy: “it will meet the urgent historical and geopolitical imperatives of surrendering the war against Ukraine”, which is not fair.

Until the eventual accession to the EU, Macron’s “EU light” should, from the beginning of 2023, “unite all countries that want to contribute together to the security, stability and prosperity of our continent”.

Macron, Draghi and Scholz (from left) while visiting the Kiev suburb of IrpinFoto: POOL/REUTERS

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Macron, Draghi and Scholz (from left) while visiting the Kiev suburb of IrpinPhoto: POOL / REUTERS

These are the stumbling blocks for Ukraine

There are many reasons why Ukraine cannot join the EU almost overnight:

► No country with unresolved territorial conflicts can join the EU. Ever since Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014 and pro-Russian separatists have taken control of areas in eastern Ukraine, a solution to the conflict has been considered extremely unlikely. The French news agency AFP quotes an anonymous EU diplomat as saying: “We must not reduce the requirements for accession in the EU. Otherwise, we will kill the EU. “

► According to EU diplomats, Sweden and other countries also have reservations because Ukraine is far from the rule of law that would be necessary for a future EU member state.

► The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who is considered one of the biggest supporters of the status of a candidate country in Ukraine, also calls for rapid reforms “for example to fight corruption”.

► There is also a problem that is only being discussed behind closed doors: a large country such as Ukraine, with more than 40 million inhabitants, will need a lot of money for reconstruction, especially given the destruction of entire cities and regions. An EU diplomat told BILD: “The willingness of those currently sitting at meat pots in Brussels to back down in favor of Ukraine has so far been limited.” In addition, net contributors such as the Netherlands and Denmark have internal concerns about the legacy. to the costs recorded.

These signals come from the Scholz government

In Brussels, people are confused about the direction the federal government is heading, there are signals from the traffic light government that it will reward Kiev’s efforts in recent months and grant Ukraine candidate status. But: In the chancellor’s office, it is important that previous candidates for accession do not have the bitter feeling that they are “ahead.”

Scholz has the Western Balkans in particular. He now urges to pave the way for concrete negotiations with Albania and Northern Macedonia, which have so far failed due to French opposition.

In principle, as can be heard from Brussels, there is certainly support for the new Scholz initiative. But the Chancellor’s problem is that he has not yet understood that he does not have to call only Paris, Rome or Madrid, but also seek support in smaller countries.

France might step back if, in return, Scholz supported one of France’s basic demands: to limit the EU’s unanimity principle to a few basic issues. There is a fear of attempts at blackmail by using a veto. However, opposition to the necessary change in the EU treaties comes from 13 EU countries – that is, from every other member state.

Map: Refugees from Ukraine - infographics

Draghi encourages Ukrainians

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi is Ukraine’s easiest guest on his way to Kiev: he said at the end of May that “almost all major EU members” are against Ukraine’s candidate status – “except Italy”.

During a visit to the Kiev suburbs, Irpin Draghi encouraged Ukraine to rebuild: “This is a place of destruction, but also of hope,” he said.

“People were united by the war, now they can do things that may not have been possible before the war.”