European Union-Ukraine Summit in Kyiv: “We are with Ukraine” News message. Last Minute France, Netherlands, Russia headlines and events
The European Union is meeting in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, about a year after the start of the Russian invasion. The EU administration, meeting for the first time in a country at war, is preparing to convey the message “We support Ukraine” in symbolic and powerful language.
European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, together with 15 EU commissioners, traveled to Kyiv today for a working meeting with the Ukrainian government.
The 24th EU-Ukraine summit will be held in the capital on Friday, 3 February. For security reasons, no details about the summit have been released.
European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Von der Leyen will reaffirm in Kyiv “the EU’s commitment to support Ukraine under attack.”
This support is included in the final draft text of the summit with the statement “The EU will support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people for as long as necessary against Russia’s war of aggression.”
The draft text also highlights the scope of EU assistance to Ukraine in the form of financial, humanitarian, emergency and military support. The EU emphasizes that about 60 billion euros have been allocated to Ukraine, including 10 billion euros for the reception of refugees, 18 billion euros for the promised macro-financial support for 2023 and 12 billion euros for military assistance.
“We do not enter the beauty pageant with the United States”
Von der Leyen and Michel went to Kyiv three times each. But it is symbolic that the first EU-Ukraine summit since the start of the war is taking place in Kyiv.
After Zelensky’s visit to Washington on December 21, 2022, the Europeans want to show the world and especially Moscow their “unwavering support for Kyiv.”
According to the Le Figaro newspaper, the purpose of the trip is to show that “the Europeans have done a lot for Ukraine, and even a little more than the United States, which is said to have spent $ 50 billion to support the country in the war.”
EU High Representative for Security and Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell will announce that they will increase the number of Ukrainian military trained in EU member states from 15,000 to 30,000 in Kyiv. Von der Leyen also announces a new project about war orphans in Ukraine.
Speaking to Le Figaro, the diplomat explains this need by pointing to indirect costs such as sanctions and energy prices for Russia, saying: “The point is not to enter a beauty pageant with the United States, but to emphasize that Europeans are here.
Speaking to Le Monde newspaper, another diplomat insists: “If Ukraine can continue this war, it is only thanks to the EU.”
The EU administration wants everyone at the Kyiv summit to know about it. He wants to emphasize that almost 5 million Ukrainian refugees are under care in the EU, 9 separate sanctions decisions against Russia, membership status in Ukraine, although the conditions do not fit in any way, and especially military assistance, they provided financial assistance that they could not even represented at the beginning of the conflict. Josep Borrell explains: “All in all, EU assistance – humanitarian, financial and military – amounts to 49 billion euros. The first and biggest supporter of Ukraine is the EU.”
Perspective of Ukraine in the EU
European leaders will also reaffirm Ukraine’s “European perspective” at their meeting in Kyiv. However, a new statement on the full membership of Ukraine from the EU is not expected. Kyiv will pursue a policy of “appeasing the impatience of Kyiv, which insists on an early entry into the EU.”
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shimal, in an interview with Politico news site earlier this week, said they want his country to join the EU in 2026, saying: “We have a very ambitious plan to join the European Union in the next two years. ‘ said it was necessary.
The 27 EU member states, which want to support Ukraine at war with Russia and send a strong signal to Russia, have accelerated the first stages of the accession process by granting Ukraine and Moldova “candidate country” status in June 2022. “One day, hopefully soon, a Ukrainian will take over my current position as President of the European Council or President of the European Parliament or Commission,” said European Council President Charles Michel, who visited Kyiv last week.
However, Michel’s and von der Leyen’s statements about a fast accession process are not a general consensus in the corridors of the EU. While Poland, the Baltic states and Slovakia are pushing for Ukraine’s EU accession as soon as possible, many other member states, especially France and the Netherlands, find it urgent to explain to Kyiv that this process will take time.
On Friday, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel will make a number of proposals without discouraging the Ukrainians. Didier Reynders, EU justice commissioner, draws attention to the complexity of the process, saying: “Ukraine is putting a lot of pressure to keep things moving forward.”
However, recent corruption scandals in Ukraine have alarmed even EU countries that favor Ukrainian membership, although Volodymyr Zelensky very quickly fired a large number of officials and government members involved in the scandal. The President of Ukraine knows that the EU wants guarantees in this regard. However, Ukraine is far from this goal. In the “Corruption Perceptions Index” prepared by the anti-corruption organization Transparency International in 2021, Ukraine ranks 122nd out of 180 countries in 2021.
Lawrence Boon, French Minister for EU Affairs, opined that “we must move forward without being exposed to dangers such as losing Ukraine, making it wait too long, ignoring the lack of economy and the rule of law, acting too quickly. If we make them wait 25 years, we will lose.”
Despite strong pressure from Ukraine, for now, the EU wants Kyiv to implement reforms in areas such as justice, the fight against corruption and media freedom. The Commission will present its oral assessment on this issue at the EU leaders’ summit in April. This will be followed by a written report to be submitted in October, after which the EU will take a forward-looking decision on Ukraine’s accession process.
To the War Crimes Tribunal
The Commission also notes that the international prosecutor’s office, set up in The Hague to collect evidence of Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine, is the “first step” before the creation of a special tribunal.
This joint investigation team includes prosecutors from 6 EU member states, Poland, 3 Baltic countries, Romania and Slovakia. According to Didier Reynolds, the team is taking on the mission of bringing Ukraine closer to the International Criminal Court and is expected to be joined by a US representative in a few weeks.
The EU is also seeking a way to use for Ukraine the €276bn assets held by the Russian central bank abroad, €200bn of which are in Europe. The Commission also intends to announce a new EUR 25 million humanitarian program providing for a visa-free regime for industrial goods, the abolition of customs duties on Ukrainian exports for another year, or Ukraine’s integration into the EU’s mobile free movement zone.
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