Macron Admits Ukraine's EU Bid Likely To Take "Several Decades", Would "Lower Standards For Accession"

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, May 10, 2022 - 08:15 AM

Despite all the early idealism and optimism regarding Ukraine's desire to join the European Union after it applied to join four days after the Russian invasion kicked off in February, French President Emmanuel Macron has just poured cold water on the prospect, apparently in an effort to sideline to whole accession question in favor of alternative options.

While it's typical for the membership process to take years, with some European countries - especially the Baltic states - previously saying they would back Ukraine being "fast-tracked", Macron in Monday statements admitted Ukraine's accession could take "several decades".

"We all know perfectly well that the process to allow [Ukraine] to join would take several years indeed, probably several decades," Macron said. And then he stressed: "That is the truth, unless we decide to lower the standards for accession. And rethink the unity of our Europe." The blunt negative assessment came as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen more positively said that the commission is ready to offer an "opinion" on the matter as early as June.

In the speech Macron pushed as an alternative vision potential ways that decision-making within the consensus-driven EU could be made faster, saying that a "parallel European community" should be considered as opposed to bending the rules of the 27-nation bloc's strict membership criteria.

He described this as "a way of anchoring countries which are geographically in Europe and share our values". Axios observes of the comments, "Now clearly the EU's senior statesman after his re-election, Macron wants to sideline the accession question and streamline decision-making within the EU as it exists."

After a March 24 address that Ukraine's President Zelensky gave before a European Council meeting wherein he urged immediate Ukrainian membership under a "new special procedure" - Ursula von der Leyen responded enthusiastically "they are one of us, and we want them in" - but also said it would be undertaken "over time".

The question of reforming EU processes and structure comes as Viktor Orbán's Hungary remains a stubborn thorn in the side of lead EU counties' desire to slap more sanctions packages on Russia, most especially the oil ban. Axios notes the following developments on holdout Hungary:

  • Hungary has refused to vote for another sanctions package "until there is a solution" to its energy security — calling the EU's proposal to phase down Russian oil imports "an atomic bomb" for the Hungarian economy.
  • Von der Leyen traveled to Budapest on Monday in a bid to convince Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, viewed as the EU's most pro-Russian leader, to drop his veto threat.

The inter-EU deadlock has remained unresolved, following Budapest days ago calling a proposed Russian oil embargo an "atomic bomb" for its economy.