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France’s President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday it would take ‘decades’ for a candidate like Ukraine to join the EU, and suggested building a broader political community of democratic states around the bloc.
Speaking at the Conference on the Future of Europe in Strasbourg, Macron said, ‘Even if we gave them [Ukraine] candidate status tomorrow, we all know perfectly well that the process of allowing them to join would take several years, in truth doubtless several decades.’
But, noting the urgency of giving Ukraine and other EU hopefuls like Moldova and Georgia a place in the heart of Europe, he called for the creation of a ‘European political community’.
Russian invaded Ukraine in February, in part to thwart Kyiv’s tilt towards integration with the EU and NATO, and Georgia and Moldova are also partly occupied by Moscow’s troops.
Just ahead of Macron’s speech, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, tweeted that the EU executive would give its ‘opinion’ on Ukraine’s membership bid in June.
But Macron, in a speech endorsing calls for a treaty change to further strengthen the EU’s federal integration, said the bloc, ‘given its level of integration and ambition’ could not be Europe’s only organising body.
Rather than bringing down stringent standards to allow countries to join more quickly, Macron suggested creating a parallel entity that could appeal to countries who aspired to join the bloc or, in an apparent reference to Britain, countries which had left the union.
‘It is our historic obligation … to create what I would describe before you today as a European political community,’ he said.
‘This new European organisation would allow democratic European nations … to find a new space for political cooperation, security, cooperation in energy, transport, investment, infrastructure, the movement of people.’
Cette Communauté politique européenne permettrait aux Nations, européennes et démocratiques, de trouver un nouvel espace de coopération, en matière de politique, de sécurité, d’énergie, de transport, de libre circulation des personnes.pic.twitter.com/xXRzg02rHi— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) May 9, 2022