“The European Union will support Ukraine for as long as necessary”

as promised in his speech to the European Parliament on Wednesdaythe president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, traveled to kyiv to stage even more clearly the Union’s support for Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion. Von der Leyen affirmed this Thursday in an appearance with Ukrainian President Volodímir Zelenski that the EU will support Ukraine “as long as necessary.” In his speech he had said the day before that Ukraine “is part” of the European project and that the sanctions against Russia will be maintained because “this is not the time for appeasement” with the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

“We can never match the sacrifice that the Ukrainians are making,” said the president of the community executive in kyiv, but “what we can say is that they will have their European friends by their side for as long as it takes.” The most pressing question for the Ukrainians, however, was whether to keep the doors open for a Ukraine’s integration into the EU to which Von der Leyen said that the process “is on the right track” and that “it is impressive to see the speed, determination and precision with which they advance”, but for the moment the most important objective is to anchor Ukraine to the single European market as soon as possible, which would be a very important factor in speeding up the country’s reconstruction process.

The most important milestone in this regard has been the electrical interconnection that currently allows Ukraine to provide electricity to the European market and obtains constant foreign exchange for it. It also enjoys a tariff exemption for almost all of its products (98% of its exports) although many of these goods cannot enter the EU due to other types of technical regulations and Von der Leyen advocated helping to eliminate them because he insists that Ukraine must have “more business, more income’, in order to catch up as quickly as possible with the economy of its western neighbors before integrating into the community economy.

a political goal

He also spoke of permanently maintaining the elimination of the cost of ‘roaming’ services for Ukrainian phones in the EU. Currently this is a solidarity measure so that the millions of refugees can continue to communicate with their families, but the purpose of the trip is more political than effective in terms of real progress on Ukraine’s path to the EU. The country received EU candidate status in June, at the most serious moment of the Russian advance on its territory, at the same time as the former Soviet republic of Moldova, bordering Romania. Von der Leyen mentioned the two countries, Georgia and the countries of the Western Balkans in his speech but he did so elusively and mixed with the concept of the Community of Democratic Countries that France has proposed to politically welcome the neighbors of the EU. And at the same time he told the governments of the member countries that the declarations in favor of the enlargement of the EU had to come hand in hand with a will to reform the treaties to make it possible. In reality there is no sign of consensus on one issue or the other.

Ukraine gained EU candidate status in June, at the same time as the former Soviet republic of Moldova.

For now at least Von der Leyen maintains the formal unity of the member countries, but there are doubts that he can go much further. This Thursday they asked him in kyiv about new sanctions on Russia and said that they were working on it, but did not clarify that one country, Hungary. she has said that she will veto them.

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