Ukraine's EU membership '15 or 20 years' away, says French minister

“Ukraine’s European Union accession bid will not be finalized for another “15 to 20 years,” France’s minister for European affairs said Sunday, destroying Kyiv’s hopes of joining the bloc amid the ongoing Russian invasion.

“We have to be honest. If you say Ukraine is going to join the EU in six months, or a year or two, you’re lying,” Clement Beaune told Radio J. “It’s probably in 15 or 20 years, it takes a long time.”

“I don’t want to offer Ukrainians any illusions or lies,” he said, reiterating an offer by French President Emmanuel Macron to create a looser “European political community” that could help integrate Ukraine with the bloc sooner.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday denounced “such compromises” and insisted on an immediate start of the process toward full EU membership.

But Beaune said Macron’s proposal is not “an alternative to joining the European political community. It doesn’t prevent membership later on.”

Some EU leaders share France’s skepticism about a rapid acceptance of Ukraine’s membership bid, concerned that it will take time to rebuild a war-shattered economy, reduce corruption and adopt far-reaching economic and legal reforms.

On Thursday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said there were “no shortcuts” to joining and the ascension process “is not a matter of a few months or years.”

Mr. Macron’s “European political community” initiative will be debated at an EU summit in late June. /