While Germany does not support a fast-tracked accession of Ukraine, foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said on Tuesday (10 May) that she supports the idea of a reform of the EU to allow Ukraine and other countries to integrate more deeply with the bloc.
Baerbock was seemingly referring to the proposal of French president Emmanuel Macron, who outlined his vision for a “European Political Community” in the European Parliament yesterday.
Macron’s idea envisions the establishment of a political community in the neighbourhood of the EU, that would fall short of full membership to the bloc, but would entail a political rapprochement and partial integration into the EU.
“What cannot happen again are false promises,” Baerbock stated at a press conference with her Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, in Kyiv.
While she stressed that there cannot be any “shortcuts on the road to full EU membership,” she said that there could be other ways to integrate Ukraine into the EU.
However, “to achieve this, we need above all a reform of the European Union. […] That is also the lesson of this brutal war of aggression,” Baerbock said.
The ball is now in the court of the European Commission, which should ensure “that these are not empty promises, that we can pave the way for the internal deepening of the European Union and thus also make it clear: Ukraine belongs to the European Union,” Baerbock emphasised.
European Political Community
Macron outlined his similar vision the day before Baerbock’s statements, during his press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his speech at the European Parliament on Monday.
The French president emphasised that “we have to be honest” that the prospect of Ukraine joining the bloc in the next few years “is not achievable.”
Instead, he pushed for an alternative model, that would allow Ukraine to partially integrate into the EU and establish closer ties with the war-torn country, without granting full membership: the European Political Community.
According to Macron, the aim of this community is to “build peace and stability and cooperation on the more geopolitical issues of our Europe” with countries that “share our values.”
Possible candidates for this community include not only Ukraine but also Bosnia-Herzegovina, Moldova, Georgia, as well as the United Kingdom.
In response to Macron’s comments, Scholz said that the proposal would be an “interesting approach to deal with the big challenges that lie ahead of us.”
A political consultation will be launched in the coming weeks and the subject will be discussed by the French President and the German Chancellor with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Macron said on Monday.
**Davide Basso has contributed to this story
[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]