Berlin, Germany | Xinhua | German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday that there would be no shortcuts to Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union (EU).
The European Commission is expected to complete its initial assessment of Ukraine’s EU membership application by the end of June, Scholz said in his address to the Bundestag, the lower house of the German Parliament. Not allowing shortcuts on the country’s road to the EU, however, is an “imperative of fairness” towards the other countries of the Western Balkans, Scholz said.
Accession to the EU can take several years. The Western Balkan countries of Montenegro, Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia have been recognized candidate countries for between eight and 17 years.
Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron also dampened Ukraine’s hopes for a quick EU accession. “We all know perfectly well that the process which would allow them to join would in reality take several years, and most likely several decades,” he said.
Ahead of the extraordinary meeting of EU leaders at the end of May, Scholz spoke in favor of a European solidarity fund for the reconstruction of Ukraine. “It is already clear, the reconstruction of the destroyed infrastructure, the revival of the Ukrainian economy, all this will cost billions,” he said.
The solidarity fund would be “fed by contributions from the EU and our international partners,” he said, stressing that the EU had to start preparations now to support Ukraine on “its European path.”
Scholz stressed that solidarity in Europe was also required to cope with energy price increases. “At the European level, the main concern is to ensure that there are no bottlenecks in energy supply in individual member states.”
To avoid energy shortages, Germany must become independent from fossil energy and expand the trans-European energy networks, Scholz said, praising the progress that was made together with Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands.