Saturday, April 1

Can Ukraine enter the EU? The President of the European Commission opens the door, but the process is not easy

“He is one of ours and we want him in the European Union.” This is how clearly the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed herself this Sunday night on Euronews. But the truth is that the accession process does not depend on it or on the Community Executive, but on the 27 Member States, and on there being unanimity among them.

Indeed, applications for membership are sent to the Council – the governments – and to date Ukraine has not formally submitted anything. Once the formal application for membership is submitted, the decision is made unanimously by the Council.

In his interview with Euronews, Von der Leyen, despite supporting Ukraine’s accession, did not give any hint that it could be an agile process, as the Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelensky, requested in his televised messages.

“We have a process with Ukraine that is, for example, integrating the Ukrainian market into the single market”, said the President of the European Commission: “We have very close cooperation in the energy network, for example, there are many issues in those of us who work closely together. They are one of us and we love them.”

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, for his part, stated in the French network BFMTV that there are “different opinions” among member states about Ukraine’s accession to the EU.

“Accession is a long-standing request by Ukraine. But there are different opinions and sensitivities within the EU about enlargement. Ukraine will submit a formal request, the European Commission will have to express an official assessment and the Council will decide,” he explained. Michelle.

Michel also explained in the interview that he intends to invite Zelensky “on a regular basis” to European summits: “To show the close bond that we want with Ukraine.”

The process of accession to the EU is turbulent. Anything but automatic, as the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has been demanding: the States that join the EU must comply with a series of requirements related to the separation of powers, transparency, democratic guarantees, legal certainty, respect for the rule of law, economic open… And the Balkan countries have been in the queue for quite some time, among which North Macedonia and Albania are the best placed. But they are still waiting.

In the same way that Ukraine will not be able to enter the EU automatically, neither will it be able to do so in NATO, as the Atlantic Alliance itself has taken it upon itself to remind us, which as many times as it reiterates its commitment to the open door policy insists on that Ukraine’s entry “is not on the table”.

Zelensky himself insisted this Monday on starting a “special process” that would lead to an “immediate” accession of the country to the EU: “Our goal is to be together with all Europeans and, most importantly, to be on an equal footing” , he said in relation to accession, a process for which Kiev has previously asked the EU for progress, according to the Ukrinform news agency.

When Von der Leyen said ‘no’ to Zelensky

Less than a year ago, in April 2021, Von der Leyen, who now opens the door to the EU to Zelensky, rejected an invitation from the President of Ukraine to attend the celebration of 30 years of independence on August 24. of Ukraine from the Soviet Union. While the president of the European Commission has declined to attend, the European Council, Charles Michel, did confirm her assistance to Zelensky.

But von der Leyen not only declined to go, but initially ordered his chief of staff to decline the Ukrainian president’s invitation on his behalf, something unusual in international relations. The spokesman for the European Commission, Eric Mamer, assured then that that letter signed by Bjiörn Seibert and unveiled by Libération it was never sent and that the one who was going to reject the invitation would be Von der Leyen herself.

What the European Commission did not explain, however, were the reasons why the invitation was rejected, beyond pointing out “schedule problems” in an appointment for August 23.