EU-Ukraine summit in Kyiv: dashed hopes?

"I believe Ukraine deserves to start negotiations on EU membership this year," Volodymyr Zelensky said in the run-up to Friday's EU-Ukraine summit. Now the summit is over without any mention of a timetable for accession. The debate about desirable perspectives and realistic expectations continues in the commentary sections.

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Le Soir (BE) /

Membership still a long way off

Le Soir sees no sign of an accelerated accession procedure:

“The statements by the Europeans in Kyiv hardly differed from those given to previous candidates for accession under far less tragic circumstances. The road to accession is long (and arduous). Membership status 'must be earned'. The EU welcomes Ukraine's 'considerable efforts', but the timetable Kyiv requested to speed up the accession process remained in the desk drawer. 'Ukraine is the EU, the EU is Ukraine' - the slogan used by Charles Michel in Kyiv on Friday has its limits. Because for the EU the message is clear: 'security first'.”

Vladimir Fesenko (UA) /

Predictable disappointment

Political scientist Volodymyr Fessenko warns in a Facebook post against expecting too much:

“It's natural (especially in times of war) to be eager for good news. Unfortunately, however, there were some completely unrealistic statements about the prospects for Ukraine's European integration. One of the country's highest officials even announced a 'very ambitious plan to join the EU in the next two years'. Any serious expert knows that this is impossible in view of the EU's political and bureaucratic procedures. ... So I repeat: do not mention specific dates (accession to the EU and Nato, the liberation of Crimea, the end of the war, etc.), and focus instead on the concrete, meaningful work necessary to achieve the goals at hand.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Reform the EU to integrate Ukraine

Rzeczpospolita calls on the Polish government to show more willingness to compromise:

“It's clear that the EU in its current form is not prepared to grant Ukraine accession. Reforms are therefore necessary. Chancellor Scholz had the controversial idea of limiting veto rights, in particular in cases where the EU Council is taking decisions on foreign policy issues. The Polish government sharply criticised this at the time - much to the delight of the PiS electorate - but without presenting an alternative. However, this too must be considered in order to give the Ukrainians a place in the EU.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Help Kyiv fight corruption too

The West must not leave Ukraine in the lurch - and not only militarily, Helsingin Sanomat insists:

“The Ukrainian leadership knows that Ukraine is perceived as corrupt in the West. That's true, and to say so is not to repeat Russian propaganda. ... Ukrainian corruption is a Soviet legacy that hard to eradicate. It has slowed down development and perpetuated poverty, but it has also been a security risk, because greedy oligarchs offered Russia the opportunity to influence Ukraine. That is why it is so important that Ukrainians win on both fronts. And they have the will to do this. The West must support Ukraine militarily, but also help it fight corruption.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

No fast-track accession

El Periódico de Catalunya advises Ukraine to be patient regarding accession:

“It does not look like emphasising the number of Ukrainians who have died in this conflict will help this time to achieve the objective that is as much part of Zelensky's victory plan as the return to the borders of 1991, namely bringing war criminals to justice and rebuilding the country. ... There will be no exceptions. Ukraine will have to go through several preliminary phases which, as in the case of the Western Balkans, could take decades. ... Leaked statements show how the moral discourse permeates everything: anything that doesn't mean accelerating EU accession is branded as collaboration with the Russians. ... Ukraine should improve its rule of law, actively fight corruption and protect its minorities.”

L'Opinion (FR) /

Visits are not enough

L'Opinion, by contrast, argues that the EU and Nato must be more accommodating with Ukraine:

“Europe must find a new solution so that Ukraine can be quickly and officially accepted into the family of democracies - without demanding that it first adapt its trade laws, environmental regulations or health standards to Brussels' requirements. The question of corruption is obviously the most sensitive issue, but Kyiv is sending positive signals by dismissing - virtually while being bombarded - leading politicians and officials caught red-handed. ... The visit by a dozen high-ranking EU representatives and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to Kyiv is a welcome but insufficient initiative.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

EU needs a Commissioner for Defence

One important person is missing in Kyiv, Der Tagesspiegel points out:

“That is the commissioner for defence - because that post does not exist. There are commissioners for equality policy, international partnerships and environment, seas, and fisheries. But there's no sign of someone who works full-time on developing a European army, expanding the existing Eurocorps, coordinating cooperation between countries on the development and purchase of military equipment and laying the foundations for integrating a future European army into Nato and embedding it in transatlantic relations. ... An EU defence ministry must be created now, not when it's all over and done with.”