Brussels promises a « European course » in kyiv

Ursula von der Leyen does not skimp on symbols: after a first trip in April, she returned to kyiv on Saturday for a surprise visit to the Ukrainian authorities. « We will take stock of the joint work necessary for reconstruction and the progress made by Ukraine on the road to Europe », she said when she arrived. After an interview with Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of the European Commission promised a response “by next weekend” about the country’s application for membership of the European Union (EU). “We want to support Ukraine on its European journey, she said during a short press conference. Today’s discussions will allow us to finalize our assessment. You have done a lot to strengthen the rule of law, but reforms still need to be put in place, to fight corruption, for example. »

For its part, Ukraine is calling for a “legal commitment” concrete action from the Europeans before the end of the month. Clearly, it would be a question of obtaining the status of official candidate for entry into the EU. The Ukrainian president underlines an issue which, in his view, goes far beyond the borders of his country. « All of Europe is a target for Russia and Ukraine is only the first stage of this aggression, dramatizes Volodymyr Zelensky. This is why a positive response to Ukraine’s membership application can be a positive response to the question of whether the European project has a future. »

Behind the accolades in the Ukrainian capital, everything is far from over for EU membership. Even if Ukraine were granted official “candidate” status, that would only start a process of negotiations and potential reforms before it could join the Twenty-Seven. For the time being, despite the support of most of the eastern EU countries, several Member States, such as the Netherlands, Denmark but also Germany and France, have rather dashed the hopes of kyiv. According to them, there is no « fast track » procedure for EU membership, and experience shows that it can last for years, and more than a decade: Hungary and Poland have applied for 1994 and did not return until 2004; Romania and Bulgaria had to wait twelve years before joining in 2007.

the paradox of a membership in the midst of a conflict

As an accelerator for Ukraine’s request for membership of the European Union, the war launched by Russia in February could constitute, by weakening the political institutions, a definite brake on this whole process. What Emmanuel Macron himself invoked in March at the Versailles summit: “Can we open an accession procedure with a country at war? I do not believe that. »

Another problem for Ukrainians is a very high degree of endemic corruption, as Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged. According to the world barometer established by the NGO Transparency International, Ukraine is in the position of the red lantern in Europe.


Back to top button