Wednesday 30 November 2022

Ukraine is part of the ‘European family’ but EU leaders don’t back fast track EU entry

Mark Rutte talking to reporters after the five hour meeting. Photo: Sem van der Waal ANP

European leaders meeting in Versailles near Paris have not agreed to admitting Ukraine and other Eastern European countries to the European Union via a fast track procedure because there is no such thing, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has told RTL Nieuws.

Poland and the Baltic states are keen to see Ukraine be given candidate status but the Netherlands and other countries do not want to trim the lengthy admittance procedures, RTL said.

The declaration published at the end of the meeting describes Ukraine as a member of the European family. ‘We will further strengthen our bonds and deepen our partnership to support Ukraine in pursuing its European path. Ukraine belongs to our European family,’ the statement said.

‘But these are friendly words and no guarantee of EU membership,’ RTL political correspondent Fons Lambie said.

Ukraine president Volodimir Zelenski submitted a formal request for membership at the end of February, after the start of the Russian invasion, and EU member states have asked the Commission for its position. That is the first step in gaining candidate status.

Georgia and Moldova have also requested EU membership and their cases too are being considered by the Commission, the statement said.

While some countries back giving Ukraine fast-track entry, Rutte said there is no such system. He also told RTL that he had discussed this with Zelenski in their recent telephone conversation.

‘What he would really like is for Ukraine to join this evening,’ Rutte said. ‘But regardless of whether I or others want that, it is not going to happen. And that is what I told him.’

According to Politico, Rutte insisted that the EU was already treating Ukraine’s application with unprecedented speed, but he said the Commission’s assessment ‘will take time — months, maybe years, before you get to anything.’

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