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13 Sep, 2023 08:47

Ukraine would 'complete' EU – von der Leyen

The European Commission chief argued in her State of the Union address that enlargement would be in the bloc’s best interest
Ukraine would 'complete' EU – von der Leyen

The European Union should enlarge and absorb Ukraine into its structure, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has argued in her 2023 State of the Union address. The official claimed that the move would not necessarily require amendment of the Treaties of the European Union, the legal basis for the bloc’s existence.

In her speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France on Wednesday, von der Leyen stressed that Brussels is faced with the historic task of “completing our Union,” before proclaiming that the “future of Ukraine is in our Union.”  
The European Commission president insisted that the bloc “cannot afford to leave our fellow Europeans behind,” apparently referring to Ukrainians.

In a world where size and weight matters, it is clearly in Europe’s strategic and security interests to complete our Union,” the official concluded.

According to von der Leyen, the potential accession of Ukraine could be implemented even before the European Convention and Treaties were amended.

However, Bloomberg on Wednesday cited undisclosed EU sources briefing that some member states harbor concerns about potential overextension of the bloc by accepting Ukraine and channeling resources toward it. The article also noted that worries about corruption in aspiring nations have also been voiced.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, speaking to Politico in early September, warned against fast-tracking Ukraine’s accession, saying that it could jeopardize the EU’s credibility in the eyes of other hopefuls waiting to join the bloc longer than Kiev, resulting in a “geostrategic disaster.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishina told US state run Voice of America last week that “two years would be enough for full preparedness” for Kiev’s membership. She described her country as one of the “best prepared [nations] for EU accession.

Late last month, EU foreign-policy chief Josep Borrell said that the bloc had to “be prepared for an enlargement that could add ten more members to the European Union,” mentioning Ukraine in particular.

Kiev officially applied for EU membership in late February 2022, days after Russia attacked the country, with neighboring Moldova following suit not long after. The European Council granted candidate status to both nations a few months later.

EU leaders are expected to discuss the potential enlargement of the bloc at a meeting of the European Political Community in Granada, Spain on October 5, as well as at the European Council summit in December.