Brussels urged to rein in Ukraine’s “unrealistic” EU hopes

Brussels urged to rein in Ukraine’s “unrealistic” EU hopes

EU member states have warned Brussels to not give Ukraine unrealistic expectations of fast accession to the bloc forward of the summit in Kyiv, the place Volodymyr Zelenskyy is urgent for progress on accession and reconstruction.

Zelenskyy is because of host his EU counterparts Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel this week, the place he’s anticipated to foyer for the nation’s EU membership, utilizing frozen Russian belongings to finance it. of Ukraine reconstruction and a authorized mechanism for prosecuting Russians for conflict crimes.

Senior diplomats from EU capitals worry that Ukraine’s unrealizable expectations – together with EU accession by 2026 – have been inspired fairly than mitigated by Brussels’ high officers.

“No political chief desires to be on the unsuitable facet of historical past.” . . No one desires to be accused of not doing sufficient,” stated one senior EU diplomat. “In order that they inform them that something is feasible.”

In response to Russia’s invasion final February, the EU sought to help Ukraine by means of navy, humanitarian and monetary packages, together with sanctions in opposition to Russia that hit the bloc’s personal economies. The EU additionally took the unprecedented step of making Ukraine official candidate for membershipthough it doesn’t meet the usual necessities.

However whereas some central and jap European member states have pushed for Ukraine’s calls for, different northern and western capitals are apprehensive about how its massive, poor inhabitants and big agricultural sector would possibly combine into the EU.

French President Emmanuel Macron is especially cautious concerning the velocity of Ukraine’s accession, warning in Might, earlier than the nation was formally a candidate, that the method may take “a number of many years”.

The EU management took an optimistic tone. European Fee President von der Leyen stated throughout her go to to Kyiv in September that “the accession course of is on observe.” “It is spectacular to see the velocity, dedication and precision with which you proceed,” she added.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and European Council President Charles Michel, second from left
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, and European Council President Charles Michel, second from left © Ruslan Kaniuka/Reuters

European Council President Michel stated this month that “no effort” must be spared to “flip this promise into actuality as rapidly as attainable”. “Ukraine is the EU and the EU is Ukraine,” he instructed the Ukrainian parliament.

This rhetoric has raised expectations in Kyiv that they deserve particular privileges aa quick entry into the block. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal stated he was relying on a two-year timetable.

“There will probably be no quick observe to Ukraine’s EU membership,” stated a second EU diplomat. “There’s a danger that rhetoric will collide with actuality.”

Officers from a number of member states instructed the Monetary Occasions that the fee should clarify to Ukraine that they exist big obstacles ahead the initiation of formal accession negotiations, which themselves can take ten or extra years.

“The hole.” [between promises and reality] has been rising for a while. And we’re attending to the purpose the place it is too broad,” stated a 3rd EU diplomat. “They appear to consider they will grow to be members tomorrow. And that is clearly not the case.”

In the course of the journey, von der Leyen and different commissioners will meet with Ukrainian authorities officers, the president of the fee and Michel, who represents 27 member states, and a summit with Zelensky will happen on Friday.

“Now we have all famous the momentum of reforms which can be persevering with in Ukraine,” one senior EU official stated earlier than the conferences, pointing to work on the rule of legislation and anti-corruption efforts, for instance. Discussions in Kyiv will emphasize the necessity for additional reforms and on the identical time contact on financial cooperation and the discount of commerce boundaries with the EU.

Michel and von der Leyen have additionally strongly known as on member states to discover methods to make use of proceeds from Russian central financial institution belongings frozen in European banks within the reconstruction of Ukraine.

“Von der Leyen and Michel could also be competing to see who can come throughout as extra pro-Ukraine,” stated one EU diplomat.

Ukraine, Brussels and the World Financial institution final September estimated the price of reconstruction and restoration at practically 350 billion euros, and the worth has solely risen since then as weekly Russian missile and drone assaults have broken vital infrastructure.

However these requires asset deployment have been made regardless of main questions inside the fee itself about how possible such a route could be.

Didier Reynders, the EU’s justice commissioner, instructed the FT this week that the concept of ​​utilizing Russian authorities belongings was “a really complicated matter”. “I might say not solely from a authorized standpoint, but additionally for the nice functioning of the financial system,” he stated.

The EU can be divided over the format of a possible tribunal to analyze and search to prosecute Russians for alleged conflict crimes in Ukraine.


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