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EU Summit Kicks off Amid Uncertainty over Enlargement Consensus

The EU Summit kicked off today with EU leaders gathering in Brussels for what is already being described as a “historic summit”. Among the pressing issues to be discussed at the December 14-15 Summit, which takes place against the backdrop of the ongoing war in Ukraine and the crisis in Israel and Gaza, will be enlargement prospects and a pending deal to provide Ukraine with long-term stability and €50 billion in financial assistance. The looming question is whether the EU Council will be able to reach a consensus on the decision to open negotiations with Ukraine, with the fate of progress on the EU integration path for all enlargement package countries effectively in doubt due to the position of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. has the opportunity to report from the scene of this historic event and to offer our readers the public statements on enlargement (which seems to be the most difficult issue to reach a consensus on) made by EU and member states’ leaders before the start of the summit,

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said: “Enlargement will take important part of discussions.” He called enlargement “the EU’s most important foreign policy” He also said: “ Enlargement is the strongest stability capacity that we have not only with Ukraine, but with other candidate countries in the Balkans and in the Caucasus. So it’s very much important to take the right decisions.”  When asked whether there is any chance that each country will be discussed separately he effectively dismissed such a possibility saying: “You all know what’s on agenda today. Certainly, there will be discussion about enlargement in in particular in the case of Ukraine” adding that Ukraine “has done incredible efforts to fulfill the conditions.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz asked on Germany’s position regarding Georgia’s candidacy said; “We support the proposal of the [EU] Commission.”

The man in the spotlight undoubtedly is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose resistance to starting negotiations with Ukraine has mixed up the cards and created uncertainty ahead of the EU Summit regarding the possibility of decision on the next step for the progress for the enlargement package countries said that Ukraine “has not fulfilled the [EC] conditions.” He said : “Enlargement is not a theoretical issue. Enlargement is a merit-based legally- detailed process, which has preconditions. We have set up 7 preconditions and even by the evaluation of the Commission three out of the seven are not fulfilled.  So, there is no reason to negotiate the membership of Ukraine now,” –he said adding: “We have to come to that issue when the conditions are met.” He also denied any connection between transfer to Hungary’s of funds previously blocked by the European Commission (Hungary received €10 billion from the EC yesterday) and the issue of financial aid to Ukraine, saying: “Hungary does not connect any Hungarian issue with the Ukrainian issue.”

President of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda said: “We have a historical chance to take a very bold decision on starting negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova”. Other countries are waiting too, my friends from Georgia really did a lot to implement reforms too.” Yes, there are some issues that can be discussed in the future.”

Estonian PM Kaja Kallas said: “We have to reach some kind of agreement. “we don’t have time to procrastinate or push it to the future.” Asked what signal it will be for Russia if EU leaders don’t agree on enlargement issues she said: “It’d definitely be a bad signal.” She said: “It’s a political decision on our side, but we should stick to the [EC] report.” Estonian Prime Minister expressed skepticism about the prospect for reaching a consensus regarding the start of negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova.

Dutch PM Mark Rutte said: “It‘s crucial to get positive decision on Ukraine and Moldova”.  Asked about Georgia he said: “We support every proposal Commission has made in terms of enlargement package, including Georgia.” Rutte expressed hope that the consensus on enlargement issue will be reached at the EU Council meeting.

European Parliament President Roberta Mezzola said Ukraine and Moldova these two countries have delivered, adding that “they did so under most difficult circumstances.” She said that now it’s important to open negotiations, that would be decisions merit-based process. She said: “this also applies to Georgia and Bosnia-Herzegovina once conditions have been met.” Mezzola stressed: “We must consider that global geo-political situation” adding that there is price for failing to act.” She said: “EU position is clear, it [enlargement] is an investment in peace and security, it brings benefits to society and to the people.” She also stressed that EU itself should be ready for the enlargement noting that she asked the EU Council to “take these discussions seriously”.


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