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Von der Leyen's shift on Ukraine negotiation schedule linked to elections – Politico

Wednesday, 28 February 2024, 07:58
Von der Leyen's shift on Ukraine negotiation schedule linked to elections – Politico
Ursula von der Leyen. Stock photo: Getty Images

Politico sources in the EU believe that the change in the position of European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen regarding the negotiation schedule with Ukraine about its accession is related to the upcoming European elections.

Source: European Pravda with reference to Politico

Details: At a press conference on 21 February, von der Leyen assessed that a negotiating framework (the presentation of which is Ukraine's next step toward EU integration) would not be ready before the European elections scheduled for June this year.


However, just three days later, during her visit to Kyiv, she returned to the original timetable and stated that the European Commission would take the next formal step regarding Ukraine’s EU bid in mid-March.

Six senior EU officials, speaking to Politico on condition of anonymity, linked von der Leyen's reversal in statements to the pre-election battle for a second term as president of the European Commission.

Quote: "It was just another reminder that from now on, we have to watch her every move as a campaign move," one European Commission official said. 

A French diplomat stated that von der Leyen's statements seemed "reasonable… given the debate surrounding the European elections and the amount of work that needs to be done to build a valid, robust and useful negotiating framework for Ukraine". 

An EU diplomat stated that von der Leyen's comments regarding the delay in presenting the negotiating framework appeared to be a combination of pressure from her own political group, the European People's Party and several EU countries. "France and Poland are afraid of the farmers, Germany is afraid of the finances," the diplomat said.

Two other diplomats noted that a group of EU ambassadors, mainly from Eastern Europe, contacted von der Leyen's office after her initial statement regarding Ukraine, requesting a meeting to clarify the Commission's position on EU enlargement and demanding specific commitments. 

It was this backstage pressure that prompted von der Leyen to make a U-turn to the Commission's initial commitments regarding the March discussions on Ukraine's accession.

Background: In January, the European Commission commenced work on a draft negotiating framework for Ukraine, a document that defines the principles and procedures for negotiating EU accession.

It is expected that the draft would be approved at an intergovernmental conference to be convened after the March summit of EU leaders. The convening of the intergovernmental conference is the actual start of accession negotiations.

The March EU summit is expected to assess Ukraine's recent steps to start accession negotiations. They include approval of the law on lobbying.

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