Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union would take at least “15 or 20 years" to complete, France’s European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said on Sunday, while promoting President Emmanuel Macron’s alternative proposal of creating a new “European political community” including Ukraine.
“If we say that Ukraine will join the European Union in 6 months, one year, two years, we are lying. It is not true,” Beaune told Jewish community radio station Radio J. “It is probably maybe 15 or 20 years. No matter what, it’s very long,” he added.
“It takes a very long time and I don't want us to sell illusions and lies. If we tell Ukrainians ‘welcome to the European Union, but you didn’t fully read the contract, the footnote says: hey it will be in 15 years,’ then I think we are setting the ground for the disappointment of a whole generation of Ukrainians,” Beaune said.
The French minister went on to say that Macron’s recent proposal to create a new European political community outside the EU, including Ukraine, was “not an alternative” to any EU membership for Ukraine and “did not prevent its future EU membership.”
“It is a complementary project to the European Union, which can offer a concrete political project to countries that are not in the heart of the European Union but that want to get closer to the Union,” the minister said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech on Saturday that any alternative to Ukraine's bid to join the European Union would be a “compromise” with Russia, in response to the project proposed by Macron.
Beaune said that “any accession to the European Union, let's be honest, it takes time.” “And while waiting for this membership, we cannot simply say ‘it is this or nothing’,” he added.
“It is a quick and useful complement to protect Ukraine politically, economically and energetically and to tell Ukraine ‘you are already in a project and a European political family’,” Beaune told the radio.