Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is not in favour of Ukraine and a number of Balkan states joining the European Union in 2030 as a certainty, he told reporters on the fringes of the European Political Community summit in Grenada, Spain on Thursday.
“I am not at all in agreement with that date,” Rutte said. “The question is not when a country is ready, but if they are ready,” he said.
The EPC is an alliance of 47 European countries, including non-EU members such as Britain, Norway, Switzerland and Ukraine. The summit is taking place ahead of the informal meeting of the European Council on Friday during which EU enlargement will come on board.
Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and six western Balkan countries are all hoping to join the block and European council chairman Charles Michel said earlier he hoped Ukraine and others could join in 2030. EU membership is seen as one way of reducing Russian and Chinese influence in Europe.
Rutte, who is currently acting in a caretaker capacity and will leave politics after the next government is formed, said that aspiring EU members have to meet thousands of conditions and that no concessions should be made.
“The EU already has 27 members and if more countries join, the decision making process and all sorts of other things will become even more complicated,” Rutte said.
EU leaders on Friday will discuss possibly simplifying the entry rules, but many have doubts about the cost to existing members. “Can we continue to help countries on this scale deal with their trailing economies,” Rutte is quoted as saying by broadcaster NOS. “I don’t think we can.”
Rutte also told reporters that he was convinced US support for Ukraine’s military efforts would continue and the Americans would “stay on board.”
“This is about our common values, our common security and we cannot accept one country in 2022 invading another nation,” he said. “I am absolutely convinced they will solve this issue.”