EU leaders support Ukraine but don’t want quick membership – POLITICO

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VERSAILLES, France – EU leaders on Friday condemned Russia for “unprovoked and unjustified military aggression” and pledged unwavering support for Ukraine and refugees fleeing war, but they stopped short of bringing Kyiv to EU membership at the request of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

In one declare announced after hours of debate at the Council of Europe summit at the Palace of Versailles, the leaders “recognized Europe’s aspirations and Europe’s choice for Ukraine” and noted that the Their application for accession was forwarded “promptly” to the European Commission for consideration of their “opinion” – the first stage of a lengthy process towards being declared a candidate country and start negotiations on membership.

However, they also signaled a willingness to bring Ukraine closer to the EU politically while that process goes on:In the meantime and without delay, we will further strengthen our relationship and deepen our partnership to assist Ukraine in pursuing its European path. Ukraine belongs to our European family”.

The statement was released shortly after 3 a.m., at the end of the first day of the two-day summit. There was no immediate response from the Ukrainian government.

While the statement is clear in demonstrating the EU’s intention to help Ukraine, including political and financial support and temporary protection for refugees, it does not offer guarantees of eligibility. member that Zelenskyy requested.

Several EU states, led by the Netherlands, have insisted that there is no way to shorten the lengthy accession process, even for Ukraine, which is under an active military attack by Russia.

“I think we all acknowledge the extremely difficult situation Ukraine is in,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said as he left the summit venue in the early hours of Friday morning. “People were really shocked.”

Rutte stressed that the EU was processing Ukraine’s application at an unprecedented rate, but he said the Commission’s review “will take time – months, possibly years, before you get anything done.” what”.

The leaders pledged to support Ukraine. European Council President Charles Michel highlighted a proposal to provide an additional 500 million euros in support through the EU’s so-called European Peace Facility, which is being used to provide military aid to Kyiv.

The leaders also promised to help rebuild Ukraine after the war – given that the country still exists and has not been occupied by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his forces.

“We pledge our support for the reconstruction of a democratic Ukraine after the Russian onslaught has ended,” the leaders declared. “We are determined to further increase our pressure on Russia and Belarus. We have already imposed substantial sanctions and remain ready to move quickly with further sanctions.”

President of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda, whose country favors accepting Ukraine’s membership bid on an expedited basis, tried to describe the result as a major breakthrough. “A historic night in Versailles,” he tweeted. “After five hours of heated discussion, EU leaders said yes to Ukraine’s euro integration.”

However, that generic “yes” was never much questioned. Specific details were fabricated through bureaucratic language.

Regarding the processing of Ukraine’s accession application, the leaders’ statement referred to “relevant provisions” in the EU treaties.

That allows countries backing Ukraine’s membership to claim a victory when the treaties regulate the procedure for joining the bloc.

But the treaties also set out many other things – including the criteria for membership and the fact that countries can only join the EU with the unanimous consent of all existing members.

In their statement, the leaders also noted that the Council asked the Commission to comment on the application for accession from Moldova and Georgia.

Suzanne Lynch and Giorgio Leali contributed reporting. EU leaders support Ukraine but don't want quick membership - POLITICO

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