German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and French President Emmanuel Macron have sent another signal of support for Ukraine. On Monday evening, the two politicians appeared in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin illuminated in Ukraine’s colors. Asked what they wanted to express in this way, Macron said: “Full support for Ukraine.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described Macron’s idea as “very interesting”
Macron proposed the creation of a new political community in Europe, which would also include Ukraine, Britain or Western Balkan states such as Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Its core should be the EU. Given the geopolitical situation, such a solution would make it possible to find a new space for political cooperation with countries that have not yet been able or willing to join the EU, Macron said Monday in Berlin during his first official trip abroad after being sworn in for a second term. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described the idea as “very interesting.” But already during the meeting, differences in positions became apparent.
French president demands treaty changes
Macron first presented his proposal at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. He was speaking there at the end of the Conference on the Future of Europe, as France currently holds the presidency of the EU Council. The idea is reminiscent of the privileged partnership the EU has long wanted to offer Turkey as a substitute for full EU membership.
It is France that is raising questions about the EU’s ever more far-reaching enlargement. Like his predecessors, Macron has advocated closer cooperation within the EU, and on Monday proposed treaty changes and majority decision-making on fiscal and defense policy as well.
It’s not just Ukraine seeking EU membership
Despite the chancellor’s friendly response, the topic of a new political union is likely to lead to new conflicts.
Ukraine is demanding full membership in the EU and NATO. Scholz, on the other hand, explicitly warned at a joint press conference that the concept must not lead to six Western Balkan countries now being denied EU membership.
Just last week, Scholz called for six countries – Serbia, Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina – to be admitted to the EU as soon as possible.
Referring to Macron’s demands for changes to EU treaties, Scholz said Germany would not block this.