Air alert overshadows talks: EU-Ukraine summit brings no concrete prospect of membership

The mood seems good until an air alert briefly interrupts the EU-Ukraine summit.

Air alert overshadows talks: EU-Ukraine summit brings no concrete prospect of membership

The mood seems good until an air alert briefly interrupts the EU-Ukraine summit. However, the results of the talks are rather vague. Ukraine's EU membership application is being supported, but there is no timetable for this. The results are most concrete when it comes to sanctions against Russia.

The EU has promised Ukraine its full support for its desire for membership in the near future - even at a summit in Kyiv, however, it did not give any specific time perspective. This emerges from the joint final declaration by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Council President Charles Michel and the Ukrainian head of state Volodymyr Zelenskyj. In it, the EU merely reaffirmed its determination to support the country's European integration.

Further steps, such as the start of accession negotiations, are therefore only possible if the country attacked by Russia fully meets a whole series of conditions. This involves, for example, the selection process for constitutional judges and a stronger fight against corruption, especially at high level. Regarding the reform efforts so far, it was said that the EU recognizes that Ukraine has made "considerable efforts" despite the war with Russia.

After the summit, Zelenskyy said that "not a single day would be lost" in the work to bring the EU closer together. The aim is to start negotiations on accession as quickly as possible. Ukraine has been an accession candidate since last year. The EU made much more concrete commitments to the war against Russia. Michel promised Zelenskyy: "The EU will support you in every possible way for as long as necessary." In particular, von der Leyen pledged further aid for reconstruction. So far, according to their own statements, the EU and its member states have already mobilized almost 50 billion euros in support.

The Ukraine summit was overshadowed by air alerts in the morning and afternoon. According to information from the capital, it was triggered in the morning because of the use of Russian warplanes in the airspace over Belarus. From there, rockets are regularly fired in the direction of Ukraine. It was initially unclear whether the air alert had an impact on the summit. For security reasons, no information was given about the exact procedure. Rocket hits were not reported until the afternoon.

Before the summit, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal had repeatedly suggested a two-year accession perspective. In fact, the time frame mentioned by Schmyhal is likely to be unrealistic. Diplomats in Brussels expect that Ukraine will not be able to join the EU before the next decade if the accession rules are not relaxed.

Von der Leyen was in Kyiv with 15 EU commissioners for talks with the Ukrainian government on Thursday. She announced further financial, military and humanitarian aid. A further 450 million euros are to be made available this year to support the rapid reconstruction of infrastructure and reform projects. By the anniversary of the start of the war on February 24, a new package of sanctions against Russia is to be adopted - the tenth. Von der Leyen said after the summit that Russian deals worth ten billion euros would be affected. Specifically, it will be about other technology that can be used for the Russian war machine.