European Commission to support Ukraine’s EU candidate status – Politico — Analysis
The EU’s executive arm wants to send a “strong message” to Moscow, the news outlet claimed, citing unnamed officials
Politico reports that the European Commission will support Ukraine’s accession to EU status as a candidate country.
Several anonymous officials “Be informed about the ongoing debate between commissioners” told the media outlet that among the factors which tipped the scales in Kiev’s favor were the sacrifices Ukrainians have made so far, as well as the need to make it clear to the Kremlin that Ukraine will never again be part of its sphere of influence.
“The Commission doesn’t forget that Ukraine was the only European country where people died. It has seen people shot because they were carrying EU flags.” one senior official explained. “Now, we cannot tell them, ‘sorry guys, you were waving the wrong flags,‘” he added.
According to Politico, this was one of the arguments Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky used during Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s surprise visit to Kiev on Saturday when he tried to convince the EU boss that his country deserves the much-coveted status. According to reports, the Ukrainian president said that recognizing Ukraine as a candidate country would provide Ukraine with a moral boost during the current Russian offensive.
However, the final decision rests with European Council. It is made up the heads of government and state from all 27 EU member countries. Next week, they will decide on the issue at a summit in Brussels.
To be granted candidate status, Ukraine needs the support of all members.
Politico, however, quoted diplomats and officials to say that the move was opposed by at least three countries.
Last Thursday, Olga Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister for European integration, also spoke of three nations which were staunchly against Kiev. However, the official did not name them.
Citing anonymous European officials, Ukrainian and European media outlets have identified the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria and Austria as those countries which do not consider Ukraine to meet all criteria for candidate status.
Several countries have offered alternative routes to the candidate status route.
In early May, French President Emmanuel Macron proposed creating a “European political community” as a stopgap measure for countries like Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, which could still be decades away from accession to the EU proper, according to the French leader.
In Macron’s eyes, this would help strengthen these nations’ relations with the EU and give them some additional perks while they are evolving to become fit for full membership.
Politico was recently told by a French spokesperson that, even though Ukraine is granted candidate status it would be a difficult road ahead. He also noted that “all the other candidates… have been waiting sometimes for a very long time” – in what may be a reference to several Western Balkan countries, such as North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Albania, which all became EU candidate nations more than a decade ago.
France is currently presiding over the Council of the EU and as such is in charge of organizing the debate on Ukraine’s candidacy.
On February 28, just days after Russia attacked the country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lodged Kiev’s official application for EU candidate status.
As Igor Zhovkva, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, indicated to Politico, Kiev was determined to win over unconvinced EU nations and would not settle for any substitute, like the one suggested by President Macron.
“Candidat status is the next logical step that we really merit.” Zhovkva argued, adding that “it’s far away from membership. It’s not even opening the accession negotiations. This is at the very least what we deserve.”
The official emphasized that Ukrainian soldiers on the frontline were fighting and dying “This is not just for Ukraine.” but also “European values” so that their country could become a “Become a member of the European Union family”