‘Good luck Germany!’ EU expansion plot’s flaws laid bare as VDL announces enlargement plan

Von der Leyen: Russian war causing 'thick fog of uncertainty for investment'

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Political commentator and Brexiteer Robert Kimbell has warned no rich country is currently on the list of those who are sending through their applications for EU membership. Mr Kimbell argued that those who will be granted membership status in the future will be net recipients of the EU budget which the rest of the contributing member states will have to foot.

He warned: “All countries applying or considering applying for EU accession would be net recipients of EU budget funds: Turkey, Ukraine, Bosnia, Albania, Georgia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Moldova.

“Good luck Germany, Netherlands, France and Italy!

“Rich countries aren’t considering applications.”

The warning comes as Kyiv received a major boost on Friday when the European Union recommended that it become a candidate to join the bloc, foreshadowing a dramatic geopolitical shift in the wake of Russia’s invasion.

At a summit next week, EU leaders are expected to endorse the recommendations by the bloc’s executive for Ukraine and neighbouring Moldova.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Twitter the bravery of Ukrainians had brought an opportunity for Europe to “create a new history of freedom, and finally remove the grey zone in Eastern Europe between the EU and Russia”.

As diplomacy advanced with Brussels, intense fighting continued in the eastern region of Donbas, where Russia seeks to solidify and extend recent gains, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to the capital, Kyiv.

Zelensky said in a nightly televised address that the decision of EU member states remains to be seen, but added: “You can only imagine truly powerful European strength, European independence and European development with Ukraine.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the decision while wearing the Ukrainian colours, represented by a yellow blazer over a blue blouse.

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“Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective,” she said. “We want them to live with us the European dream.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin railed at the West, the United States in particular, in a grievance-filled speech in St Petersburg, but sought to play down the EU issue.

He said: “We have nothing against it. It is not a military bloc. It’s the right of any country to join an economic union.”

However, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia was closely following Ukraine’s EU bid, especially in the light of increased defence cooperation among the 27-member bloc.

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Ukraine applied to join the EU four days after Russian troops poured across its border late in February. Within days it was joined by Moldova and Georgia, smaller former Soviet states also contending with separatist regions backed by Russia.

Although only the start of a process that may run for years and require extensive reforms, the move by the European Commission puts Kyiv on course to realise an aspiration seen as out of reach just months ago.

One of Putin’s stated objectives in launching what Moscow calls a “special military operation” that has killed thousands of people, destroyed cities and sent millions fleeing was to halt the West’s eastward expansion via the NATO military alliance.

But Friday’s announcement underlined how the war has had the opposite effect: convincing Finland and Sweden to join NATO, and now the EU to embark on potentially its most ambitious expansion since welcoming Eastern European states after the Cold War.

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