Ukraine applies for fast-track EU accession

Ukraine has asked for expedited European Union membership under a special procedure. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stressed the EU's special relationship with Ukraine in an interview on Sunday: "Ukraine is one of us and we want them in the European Union." Europe's press debates to what extent a fast-track accession procedure would be possible - and sensible.

Open/close all quotes (DE) /

Understandable but politically unwise

Holding out the prospect of Ukraine joining the EU now would raise false expectations, fears:

“Because a fast-track decision, as the Ukrainian president wants, will not be forthcoming. The European Union has a fixed procedure for this, and with good reason. Candidate countries are gradually brought closer to the EU in small steps. The process takes several years, allowing necessary reforms and adjustments to Europe's framework of values and laws to be made. ... It is understandable to want to give hope to the brave people of Ukraine in the face of this dreadful war. But it is not wise politically.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Better to keep a cool head

De Morgen is also sceptical:

“Apart from showing compassion we must now above all keep a cool head. ... How can we accept a country into the EU in the middle of a war? ... Naturally, we Europeans must stand by Ukraine in this terrible war. Nevertheless, we must avoid plunging headlong into the fray ourselves. ... Of course, von der Leyen's words must be interpreted above all as symbolic political support. ... But the EU leaders would be better advised to keep their mouths shut. Because if they fail to back up their words with deeds, the result will be deep disillusionment and alienation.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Suddenly no longer heresy

At least the cards are now on the table, La Stampa observes:

“The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is now openly talking about Ukraine joining the EU. She is doing this because with its resistance Ukraine is standing up for all of us. Because Putin's war is not only against Kyiv, but also against the values that the people there are striving for. These are our values. ... Whether this will eventually lead to membership or whether joining is strategically wise is of course questionable. What is certain, however, is that what until a few days ago was considered pure heresy or Kremlin propaganda is now being openly discussed.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Showing us what it means to be European

In an opinion piece in Le Monde, 16 politicians, diplomats and academics call for Ukraine to be officially recognised as an EU accession candidate:

“Since 2014, Ukraine has been paying a high price for its desire for freedom and its belief in European ideals. This is why Russia is now invading and bombing the country, hitting civilians, soldiers and infrastructure. This is why Crimea was annexed and the Donbass occupied. Despite the attacks, despite the threats, Ukrainians want to belong to Europe. They show us - in case we've forgotten - what it means to be European: sharing values and a common history, with the freedom to determine one's own destiny. Let us listen to their call and reach out to them.”

Club Z (BG) /

EU does not deserve Ukraine

Kyiv is in fact morally superior to those who will make the decision about EU membership for Ukraine, writes columnist Vesselin Jelev in Club Z:

“Ukraine is fighting Vladimir Putin's attempt at to set up a Soviet Union 2.0, which means Ukraine is fighting for Europe. Ukrainians are putting their lives on the line in this fight while Europe is making long-term calculations - for example regarding gas prices. If Ukraine survives and moves forward with its application for membership of the European Union, those who cared so much about the price of gas will decide whether Ukraine meets the Maastricht and Copenhagen criteria. I don't know whether it will meet their criteria. But I do know that today Europe does not meet the Ukrainians' criteria.”