Ukraine is hosting a summit with the European Union in Kyiv on Friday and is hoping to receive news and a timeline on its potential membership. But according to a draft EU statement seen by POLITICO, the bloc is expected to pour cold water on Kyiv’s hopes.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has said he hopes Ukraine can join the EU within two years, but the statement makes no mention of a timeline. “The EU will decide on further steps once all conditions specified in the Commission’s opinion are fully met,” the draft reads.
Ukraine was granted EU candidate status in June 2022, but the process from candidate to full member can take years and is not guaranteed. For example, Turkey was made a candidate in 1999 but never became a member, and the European Parliament voted to suspend accession talks with Ankara in 2019.
While no breakthroughs are expected at the summit, EU and Ukrainian officials say the fact that it’s being held in a country that’s at war is symbolic of the bloc’s support for Ukraine. “It is a message that Europe believes in Ukraine’s victory and supports our rapid movement towards EU membership,” Shmyhal said.
Before Ukraine was granted EU candidate status, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he didn’t care if Kyiv joined the economic bloc. “We have nothing against it. It’s their sovereign decision to join economic unions or not … It’s their business, the business of the Ukrainian people,” he said.
In March 2022, when Russia and Ukraine were engaged in peace talks, reports said that Russia was open to a deal where Ukraine could join the EU as long as it stayed out of NATO and declared military neutrality. The negotiations showed promise but were discouraged by the West and ultimately failed.