The PSD MEP, Paulo Rangel, who was part of a delegation from the PPE (European People’s Party) parliamentary group that ended a visit to Ukraine this Tuesday, was surprised at the Ukrainian Government’s determination to move forward with the start of negotiations with a view to accession country to the European Union (EU) by the end of this year.
“What would be expected was that the country would be focused on the war (…), but the truth is that, in addition to this machine, which is essentially commanded by the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, the Government itself is extremely committed and has already a lot of work done on the issue of EU membership to see if they can get negotiations started. This is something they would like to see happen by the end of 2023, we’ll see soon”, Paulo Rangel told PÚBLICO, adding that “they are very advanced and even the deputies in Parliament are very informed about already concrete matters (… ) and are already making laws.”
On the balance of a two-day visit to Ukraine – with visits to Bucha, Irpin and Kiev -, Paulo Rangel highlighted the fact that the country was working with two future horizons. That, to me, was the most surprising aspect. Not only are they dealing with the issue of war as a main issue, but they continue to have a lot of people working on two fronts that are essential for them for the future: one is the European issue and the other is the reconstruction of the country.”
Stating that “there is a fully timely and detailed responsiveness and interaction in the dossiers Europeans, at a time when they are essentially focused on the war”, the vice-president of the EPP observes that the accession process will still take some time. “First, there needs to be peace and that will take some time,” he said.
On the other hand, Rangel underlined that “it is necessary to change” the treaties of the European Union. “With the Treaty of Lisbon in the version it is in, obviously there are no conditions to receive more countries. We have to change the voting rules, the decision-making methods and that is a very difficult thing that has to be done, in addition to the fact that it is very difficult to receive Ukraine”, he explained, stressing that it will be necessary to look at all of this “in a geopolitical logic.”
According to Paulo Rangel, “there are very interesting surveys carried out by international institutions that reveal that, at the moment, support for Ukraine’s entry into the European Union is 90% among the Ukrainian population.”
In addition to the issue of Ukraine’s membership of the EU, Ukrainians are also talking about membership of NATO. “Everybody we talk to here wants to join NATO. Some even want immediate membership. Honestly, I was very aware of this concern with the European Union, but I thought that in the context we were in, this question of NATO was not so alive”, revealed Paulo Rangel, guaranteeing that there is in Ukraine “very great pressure for the NATO has a role.” However, the MEP understands that this is an issue that “would be extremely problematic” at this stage and, even in the future, will have to be treated with great diplomacy.