Head of the European Commission Proposes EU Membership for Ukraine
Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, is set to address the state of affairs in the European Union today and emphasize how Russia's war against Ukraine has fundamentally reshaped the bloc, as reported by Bloomberg.
According to sources familiar with the course of negotiations, von der Leyen earlier this month informed EU ambassadors that the bloc needs to expand its borders to acknowledge new geopolitical realities. She stated that Ukraine and Moldova should be granted membership to prevent their influence by countries that do not share the bloc's values.
These two countries, along with other nations applying for EU membership, including five Western Balkan countries that are candidates, must expedite reforms to align with the bloc's rules and leverage existing political support for admitting new members.
For the 65-year-old bloc, these discussions signify a deepening of its core identity, as member states grapple with concerns over the prolonged war in Ukraine and competition with China and the United States in economic and technological realms, although many are starting to worry about the possible return of Donald Trump.
It is expected that in October, the European Commission will announce whether it recommends commencing official negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova regarding EU membership.
The EU may also discuss some new interim steps for Ukraine, Moldova, and Western Balkan countries. French President Emmanuel Macron recently suggested that the EU may need to consider the possibility of a multi-speed Europe with different partnership arrangements between various groups.
As rumors of von der Leyen seeking re-election as president mount, EU leaders are beginning to explore new ways to utilize the EU budget and streamline decision-making processes through reducing the number of unanimity requirements.
Expansion, along with other long-standing issues such as addressing the influx of migrants, will take center stage on the EU's agenda when leaders convene next month in Granada, Spain, even as political parties prepare for the European elections scheduled for June next year.
Diplomats say that von der Leyen may well stay in power after EU leaders sort out the top positions following the European elections. However, her second term is expected to look quite different from her initial years at the helm of the EU.
According to EU officials and diplomats, she has managed to keep the EU afloat during one of its most challenging periods while significantly expanding the authority of the EU's executive director.
As a reminder, discussions on expansion will dominate high-level EU discussions until the end of the year. Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, has stated that the EU should be prepared to admit new members by 2030.