French President Emmanuel Macron has floated the idea of a “European political community” instead of lowering European Union standards for admitting Ukraine, which has just sent its second filled questionnaire to join the E.U.
Macron started discussing his idea of a new format for cooperation between European states with European leaders, and the first one was German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Earlier, Macron proposed a project to rally the democratic countries of Europe. According to the French president, it should include both members and non-members of the E.U., including the U.K. and Ukraine.
At least at first glance, his proposed idea is at odds with what he said earlier about strengthening E.U. On the one hand, Macron again spoke of the need to increase the efficiency of the E.U. On the other hand, he spoke in favour of the need for what he called the “European political community.”
The French president explained the new organization of Europe would allow democratic European countries that adhere to E.U.’s core principles to get new opportunities for cooperation – in the political sphere, in the sphere of security, in the energy and transport sphere, in investments, infrastructure and crossing borders. Accession to it would not mean mandatory accession to the E.U. in the future. Also, it would not be closed to countries that left the E.U.
In his speech, he explicitly mentioned non-E.U. states that could become the European political community members. The non-E.U states include Bosnia and Herzegovina, the United Kingdom, which has left the E.U., and Ukraine, which has been seeking accession to this organization for several years.
By the way, the authorities of Ukraine regarded Macron’s initiative as a transparent hint that they were not going to let their country into the European Union. After all, the French president delivered his speech precisely on the day when Ukraine sent the final part of the questionnaire to Brussels to obtain the status of a candidate for E.U. membership.
On Tuesday, the Financial Times published an interview with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, where he unequivocally stated that his country was satisfied only with the status of a candidate member of the European Union and not with any form of association with United Europe.
He said, “If we don’t get candidate status, it means only one thing: that Europe is trying to deceive us. And we’re not going to swallow it. Ukraine is the only place in Europe where people die for the values on which the E.U. is based. And I think that this should be respected.”
The U.K. has not commented on Macron’s idea.
However, Macron did not hide that he did not expect immediate approval of his idea. He announced a series of consultations with European leaders.
German Chancellor said, “I want to say directly that this is a very interesting proposal to solve the serious problems that we face.”
Macron’s idea is an attempt to modernize his proposals from 2017, with which he began his first presidential term. “France has been toying with the idea of making Europe more independent for 60 years. But at the same time, it is clear that something needs to be done in this direction. After the enlargement of the E.U. in 2004, the organization is just a cacophony.
Western vs Eastern European Union
In June 2021, Witold Waszczykowski, a member of the European Parliament from the ruling Law and Justice party in Poland, in an interview with Polskie Radio 24, said that Western E.U. countries don’t want to expand the Union. “Western European countries are no longer willing to admit new members to the E.U. This is due to frustration in the expansion process of the project. They got less benefit from it than expected,” Waszczykowski said.
At the same time, he said that Poland and other countries of Eastern Europe, on the contrary, are promoting the expansion of the Union.
“And we must jointly defend our interests before the leading countries of Western Europe. The new members of the E.U. are louder and louder – they do not want to obey the will of the stronger,” said the politician.
In a meeting between the foreign ministers of the Visegrad Group countries, which includes Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, and the Western Balkans, which includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, decided to promote the accession of all Balkan states to the E.U.
Formally, the European Union was created at the signing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, but it was preceded by several stages of integration, starting with the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951.
The European Union embodied the old idea of the United States of Europe, but there are significant differences from the North American prototype. The United States was created from scratch, and there is a single political nation. In Europe, each state builds its national identity on differences from its neighbours and historical events like wars. Because of this, European integration has stalled at the economic level, and there is no real political integration.