Scholz Calls Macron’s ‘European Political Community’ Idea Including Ukraine, UK ‘Very Interesting’
18:29 GMT 09.05.2022 (Updated: 19:34 GMT 09.05.2022)
© Photo : YouTube / El PaisFrench President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz observe honour guard in Berlin during Macron's visit. 9 May 2022.
© Photo : YouTube / El Pais
Speaking before the European Parliament’s ‘Conference on the Future of Europe’ on Monday, President Macron said that since it would take a country like Ukraine “decades” to join the European Union, the bloc should strive to create a separate “European political community” including countries aspiring to join the EU, and those who have left it.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has responded positively to Emmanuel Macron’s proposed ‘European political community’ of nations concept.
“I want to say explicitly that this is a very interesting suggestion,” Scholz said, speaking to reporters Monday at a press conference alongside Macron in Berlin.
The chancellor added that he was “very pleased about the suggestion that we are discussing together.”
Macron proposed a special, separate ‘political union’ of countries like Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, which he said ‘share European values’ but are for one reason or another unwilling or unable to join the EU at the moment.
“It is our historic obligation…to create what I would describe before you today as a European political community. This new European organization would allow democratic European nations…to find a new space for political cooperation, security, cooperation in energy, transport, investment, infrastructure, the movement of people,” Macron said.
“Even if we gave [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,” Macron added.
9 May 2022, 14:29 GMT
Macron also indicated that former EU members, like Britain, should “have a place” in this wider European club.
“The United Kingdom decided to leave our European Union but it can have a place in this political community,” Macron said.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced earlier Monday that Brussels would give its formal opinion on Ukraine’s EU membership bid in June.
Attempts by Ukraine’s pro-Western political and economic elites to integrate into the European Union was at the center of the political crisis which engulfed the country in late 2013 and early 2014 and culminated in the ouster of Ukraine’s democratically-elected government in a coup in February 2014.
The same year, the EU and Ukraine signed the EU association agreement, committing Kiev to systemic reforms of economic policy, laws, and regulations, and to ministerial-level summit meetings. A ‘deep and comprehensive free trade area’ agreement was signed in 2017, easing access for EU goods into Ukraine. Ukraine’s opposition has criticized the latter treaty, saying it allowed the country to be flooded with European goods, but has kept Ukraine’s exports of agricultural goods, metal and steel limited thanks to a miserly quota system. The EU proposed scrapping import tariffs for Ukrainian goods only late last month in a bid to prevent the Eastern European country's conflict-hit economy from collapsing entirely.