Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) EU member states agree that Ukraine will be able to join the Union in due time, but are not prepared to offer a fast-track membership process even though President Volodymyr Zelensky has been urging them to do so.
According to a draft declaration prepared for the EU summit today, the leaders of EU 27 countries are set to declare that while “Ukraine belongs to our European family”, they will stop short of endorsing a drive to allow Ukraine to bypass the formal processes associated with acquiring EU membership.
“We will further strengthen our bonds and deepen our partnership,” reads the draft declaration, seen by Reuters. Zelensky had previously submitted a formal application for his country to join the EU, pleading with the bloc’s leaders to fast-track his country’s accession process.
The EU countries continue to be divided on any enlargement plans, including Ukraine’s membership prospects. Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine’s neighbours within the EU all favour a fast-track membership for Kiev, but other countries, such as France and the Netherlands, continue to have their reservations about the idea.
Latvia’s Prime Minister, Krisjanis Karins, spoke out today in favour of Ukraine’s membership, but noted the road would be long and difficult. “It is important to show a clear, open door for EU membership for Ukraine, that the path is open for them to take,” he told reporters.
Ukraine has an association agreement with the EU which has been in place since 2017. This aims for Kiev to align its economic policy, legislation and numerous regulations in line with the EU policies and regulations. The same treaty also established a free trade area between Ukraine and the Union. A senior EU diplomat has indicated the bloc could consider further integrating Ukraine into its student exchange programme, and organising joint ministerial meetings more often.
The summit at the French Versailles palace takes place over two days, and will also see the EU leaders discussing how to reduce their dependence on Russian gas and oil, and what sanctions to introduce next against Moscow and its oligarchs.