Wednesday

1st Dec 2021

Centre-right leaders give Ukraine hope of EU membership

  • Merkel subscribed to the EPP statement (Photo: EPP)

EU centre-right leaders, including Germany's Angela Merkel and Poland's Donald Tusk, have given the strongest support so far for Ukraine's hopes to join the EU one day.

A resolution adopted by the European People’s Party at a congress in Dublin on Friday (7 March) refers to a clause in the EU treaty about which countries can apply to become EU member states.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The EPP "stresses that Article 49 of the EU treaty refers to all European states, including Ukraine, which has a European perspective and may apply to become a member of the Union, provided that it adheres to the principles of democracy, respects fundamental freedoms and human and minority rights and ensures the rule of law."

The language was made possible by the fact that France, which is opposed to Ukrainian membership, but which currently has a centre-left government, was not at the EPP event.

EU sources told this website that France, at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels last month, did not merely oppose any mention of Ukraine’s membership prospects in the ministers’ conclusions, but wanted to go further, inserting language to make clear that Ukraine will never become an EU member.

Poland wanted to give an enlargment promise.

And Germany came up with a compromise, with ministers agreeing to say that an association and free trade agreement with the EU is not the "final goal" in EU-Ukraine relations.

EU sources also cautioned against reading too much into the EPP statement, however.

The contacts noted that the text represents a political group trying to give a political boost to Ukraine’s new government in the face of Russian hostility.

But a formal EU statement on Ukrainian accession would have to be made by the EU Council, where the French, or any other EU country’s veto, can apply.

Meanwhile, if the EU and Ukraine sign the political chapters of the EU association accord in the next few weeks, as planned, they will be signing a legally binding document, which locks in the nature of bilateral relations for at least 10 or so years and which says nothing on article 49.

Earlier at the Dublin congress, Ukraine opposition leaders Yulia Tymoshenko and Vitali Klitschko got standing ovations by the EPP elite.

Chancellor Merkel said that "Ukrainian people have the same right for freedom and democracy as we have in the EU."

She added: “And the same goes for the people in Moldova, Georgia, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan," referring to the other countries in the EU's "Eastern Partnership” policy on former Soviet Europe.

The EPP’s resolution "strongly condemns the invasion of Russian troops on the sovereign territory of Ukraine as a breach of international law and calls on President Putin to stop and withdraw any Russian armed forces" from Ukraine.

The centre-right leaders warned that failure to comply will lead to "further isolation of Russia and to further targeted measures."

A high-level EU official told EUobserver it is very likely that further snap summits will be called if Russia goes ahead with its “provocations” in Crimea - such as Thursday’s Crimean decree on making the region part of Russia.

The high-level source said that only EU leaders, not ministers or officials, can authorise sanctions against Putin's entourage.

Ukraine PM, EU leaders taking soft line on Crimea

Ukraine’s interim leader has urged the UK and US to protect its territorial integrity, but indicated the Ukrainian army will not act unless Russian forces move beyond Crimea.

Opinion

On 'doing' Ukraine

Russian TV anchors have started to rebel against Putin's propaganda, while Ashton "does" Ukraine, and the Maidan adds two and two.

News in Brief

  1. Poland curtails media access to Belarus border
  2. Report: Germany's Scholz 'backs compulsory Covid jabs'
  3. Omicron 'present in Europe at least 10 days ago'
  4. German court finds ex-Islamic State member guilty of genocide
  5. Report: Shell is considering return to Libya
  6. Report: EU to reveal €300bn infrastructure plan
  7. Barbados becomes world's newest republic
  8. Far-right Zemmour will run for French presidency

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. No obligation to defend Ukraine from Russia, Nato chief says
  2. EU agency: 'Omicron vaccine' approval to take 3-4 months
  3. Ombudsman launches probe into Commission tobacco lobbying
  4. Lead MEP wants 'mandatory relocation' in EU asylum law
  5. The EU's 'global gateway' - an answer to China, or a dead-end?
  6. Osman Kavala in a Turkish jail - taking injustice personally
  7. Frontex implicated 'to some extent' in violations, says officer
  8. Omicron shows need for pandemic global pact, WHO says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us