Russia’s war against Ukraine marks the before and after stages in the history of the European Union, seeking to revise both its internal structure to adapt it to the new reality of the continent, and its accession model so as not to completely disappoint Ukraine’s expectations. -. The European summit, which will end France’s EU presidency at the end of June, will be the starting point for a transformation that could include renegotiating treaties and creating a special status that offers candidate countries a good slice of club privileges while they wait for their final entry.
The need to save Ukraine has already forced the EU to make unprecedented decisions, such as accepting an unlimited number of refugees or funding the purchase of lethal weapons. But the changes have only just begun, and all indications are that a process of deep restructuring of the EU will begin, which may reach one of its climaxes in the second half of 2023, during the Spanish presidency.
The next step towards Kyiv, according to public sources, could be made during the June summit, with a possible and even likely granting of the status of a candidate country for accession only three months after the request was submitted. Since other countries, Albania or North Macedonia were the most recent, it took Brussels months or years to take this first step.
Some partners still do not want to add Ukraine to the list of waiting countries for fear of creating false expectations among their population. But this recognition will visualize the commitment of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who during her recent visit to Kyiv assured that “Ukraine belongs to the European family.” “We will speed up the process. [de adhesión]”, – he said, – “as far as possible.”
In any case, the status of a candidate does not guarantee anything, not even the start of accession negotiations. And the duration of the accession process in the case of Ukraine is calculated not in years, but in decades. Susie Dennison, director of the European Power program at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) think tank, notes that “the length of the process depends not only on the part of the EU, which in the case of Ukraine is moving very quickly by its historical standards, but also on the fact that the applicant needs to do. Dennison recalls that “Ukraine must make important political and democratic reforms to qualify for entry, and unfortunately this does not happen overnight, especially in times of war.”
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Before the Russian invasion, the country under the chairmanship of Vladimir Zelensky was already at the bottom of almost all international rankings for democracy. This can be seen from such indicators as the index of the American center Freedom House, which characterizes Ukraine as “partially free”; Transparency International, where it ranks 122 out of 180 countries in terms of corruption or respect for the rights of the LGBT community, prepared by ILGA-Europe, in which it ranks 39 out of 49.
However, most European capitals agree that the EU must show a tangible commitment to Ukraine. And for that reason, the opportunity to offer Kyiv a very strong anchor also paves the way, allowing Ukrainians to enjoy the club’s many benefits while accession negotiations continue. Privileges will range from community funds to economic integration or opportunities for the free movement of people, goods and services. France, which holds the EU presidency this semester, has even proposed the creation of a confederation between the social club and the countries surrounding it that, for one reason or another, are unable or unwilling to join it as full members.
Dennison unambiguously supports this idea. “Quick accession to the EU is not possible, but it is necessary to offer support to Ukraine. And the way to solve this puzzle is to create a new level of membership with countries that are committed to making the necessary reforms to join.” The ECFR analyst believes that “Ukraine needs a security umbrella now, and such a decision would give it some confidence and at the same time would show Russia that the EU is simply not going to leave Ukraine on the sidelines.”
The new status of countries in the orbit of the EU will be part of the reforms that the club is going to carry out as a follow-up to the Conference on the Future of Europe, which ended on 9 May. The European Parliament approved a resolution this month defending treaty reform. And community sources do not rule out that the June summit will agree to convene the Convention, a forum responsible for examining in-depth treaty revision and made up of representatives of national parliaments, heads of state or governments of member countries. states, the European Parliament and the Commission.
Carlos Carnero, a former member of the European Parliament, was a participant in the last European Congress, which in 2004 adopted a draft European constitution. Carnero, now an adviser to the consulting firm Vinces, believes that “the new convention should lead to a treaty with a federal focus, which Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced a few days ago, or which appears in the Olaf treaty.” Scholz Coalition Government in Germany. However, Carnero admits that “it will be difficult to move in that direction.”
Some community sources even view the procedure as counterproductive because they fear it will take too long or stumble into public opinion in some countries, as happened with the failed draft European constitution in France and the Netherlands. The Restrained are in favor of more surgical reforms that can be approved by existing treaties. Measures such as the suppression of the veto in foreign policy and taxation are possible under the current legal framework. However, some sources and others agree that the Union needs to be adjusted both to take on new responsibilities in areas such as health, defense or foreign affairs, and to adapt institutions to future expansion eastward and into the Balkans. that, in all probability, it will come sooner or later.
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