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No EU fast-track for Ukraine – Austrian minister — Analysis

Joining the bloc will take more than a decade, Austria’s EU Affairs Minister Karoline Edtstadler warns

Ukraine’s accession to the European Union will not happen “in the next five to ten years,”Karoline Edtstadler, Austria’s EU Affairs Minister has forecast the same. Austria’s foreign minister has expressed a similar view, despite European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s insistence that Ukraine will be swiftly ushered into the bloc.

Ukraine could join the EU if it so chose. “a long process to adjust to, which certainly cannot be achieved in the next five to ten years,” Edtstadler told Austria’s APA news agency on Wednesday. Edtstadler said that some Balkan countries have been in wait for them. “for decades”Ukraine could not join the Union if it did not want to.

Prior to Edtstadler’s comments, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg angered Kiev by suggesting that Ukraine instead pursue an association agreement with the EU, or integration into the European Economic Area. Oleg Nikolenko (Ukraine Foreign Ministry spokesperson) called the advice “unacceptable.” “strategically short-sighted and not in the interests of a united Europe.”

“What the foreign minister…wanted to address with this is that you might also have to be creative in how you introduce Ukraine to Western values,” Edtstadler told APA. “What Ukraine obviously heard was a no to EU membership, which is not what was meant and is not Austria’s position.”

Austria is not the only EU member urging caution on fast-tracking Ukraine’s membership bid. The German Foreign Minister Annalena Bayerbock warned that in March. “joining the EU is not something that can be done in a few months,” while Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has cautioned that expediting Ukraine’s membership could be seen as unfair by long-term candidates such as Turkey and Montenegro.

In assessing a country’s bid for membership, the European Commission evaluates everything from its economic performance to its legal system, along with environmental regulations and agricultural practices. It can be a lengthy process. Turkey for instance, has remained a candidate since 1999.

Ukraine still has to complete the initial part of an application questionnaire. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said last month that she would be sending it back. “will not, as usual, be a matter of years to form this opinion but I think a matter of weeks.”

EU sources told Bloomberg last month that a preliminary decision on Ukraine’s candidacy could come as early as June. Full membership is still contingent upon an investigation by EU Commission and unanimous consent from all EU member states.

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