European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is expected to express support for Ukraine and Moldova’s admission into the European Union during her State of the Union address on Wednesday, according to a report by Bloomberg. The report suggests that Von der Leyen will emphasize the geopolitical impact of Russia’s military campaign against Ukraine as a compelling reason for this move.
Unnamed sources within the EU reportedly told Bloomberg that a significant portion of Von der Leyen’s speech will focus on the consequences of Russia’s actions in Ukraine for the European bloc. This follows her previous statements in which she argued for the expansion of the EU’s borders by granting Ukraine and Moldova accession. It is believed that Von der Leyen cautioned that failing to do so might expose these nations to the influence of countries not aligned with the bloc’s values.
However, concerns have been raised by some EU member states about the potential overextension of the bloc by accepting Ukraine into their ranks and allocating resources towards it. The fears primarily revolve around corruption issues in the aspiring nations, making certain member states hesitant about their admission.
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg voiced his concerns in an interview with Politico, warning against fast-tracking Ukraine’s accession. He argued that such a move could undermine the EU’s credibility in the eyes of other hopeful countries waiting to join the bloc for a longer time period than Ukraine, leading to a “geostrategic disaster.”
On the other hand, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanishina expressed confidence in her country’s readiness for EU membership. She stated in an interview with Voice of America that “two years would be enough for full preparedness” and described Ukraine as one of the “best prepared nations for EU accession.”
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also mentioned Ukraine specifically when discussing the possibility of enlarging the bloc to include ten more members. He emphasized the need for the EU to be prepared for such an enlargement.
Ukraine officially applied for EU membership in February 2022, shortly after being attacked by Russia. Moldova followed suit not long after. In June of the same year, the European Council granted candidate status to both nations.
The European Commission is expected to announce its recommendation on whether to launch formal negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova for their EU membership at a summit in Granada, Spain next month, according to Bloomberg.
Overall, the debate surrounding Ukraine and Moldova’s potential accession into the EU continues to unfold, with diverging opinions and concerns being raised by different member states. Von der Leyen’s endorsement of their membership during her State of the Union address will likely fuel further discussions and decisions within the bloc.