"The best support the European Union can give to Ukraine is to maintain its unity. The best we can offer is European unity," said the Portuguese PM.
Portuguese prime minister António Costa on Tuesday argued that the European Union should focus on giving immediate support to Ukraine rather than split into “long debates” about the country’s accession to the 27-member bloc.
“To give this clear and immediate support, we do not need to open now a negotiation or procedure that could take many years. The French president Macron talks about decades, I don’t say decades, but certainly a long, long time. The big risk is that false expectations are created that turn into bitter disappointment. Less legal debates, more practical solutions,” António Costa said in an interview published today by the British newspaper Financial Times.
The prime minister, who spoke to the newspaper during his visit to London this weekend, said his aim is to “get a clear commitment at the next European Council on urgent support and build a lasting platform to support Ukraine’s recovery”.
“The most important thing is not legal debates on Ukraine, but presenting something practical,” he said.
Without objecting to Ukraine being granted EU candidate country status, Costa said he is waiting for European partners to decide on the membership application, which European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen has promised for this week.
Even if Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s request is granted, “the real problems remain unsolved,” the Portuguese prime minister said, stressing that it is “essential to respond to the emergency that Ukraine and the Ukrainian people are now experiencing.
Europe, he stressed, must maintain the unity demonstrated since the invasion launched on 24 February by Russia, which represents “a defeat” for Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“The best support the European Union can give to Ukraine is to maintain its unity. The best we can offer is European unity,” he said.
Although Von der Leyen advocated starting Ukraine’s accession process, European leaders do not all hold the same position, as the Netherlands’ prime minister, Mark Rutte, said last month, stating before his country’s parliament that many member states oppose it.
Poland, the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and Italy have already declared themselves in favour.
António Costa felt that the idea put forward by Emmanuel Macron last month for the creation of a “European political community”, which would be a less formal association for countries that do not want to be full members or do not meet all the entry criteria, “could be a good idea to solve many of the problems”.