How to welcome Ukraine, by Enrico Letta

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2036 will be the year of Ukraine’s entry into the European Union. This date seems absurd when listening to the promises made these days by all European leaders and the expectations of the Ukrainian people and their representatives about a possible accession to the EU. However, with the current procedures it will end like this. And we already imagine the consequences of the controversies and frustrations that will emerge when the Ukrainians see this reality clearly. The EU will be seen as selfish and petty. Contrary to the generosity and attraction that the United States naturally evokes. Something needs to be done soon to avoid this scenario and to send a strong signal to Ukraine and to these countries, to the East, who see their own destiny in European values.

Accession to the EU foresees a complicated path, often ten years, and high standards to which the candidate countries must adapt. Not to mention the impact that the entry of new members may have on the institutional inclination of the Union, as has already happened with the enlargement to the central-eastern countries.

The confederation with Eastern countries would be the way to deal with the enlargement of the EU

The answer to these difficulties is the creation, from now on, of a European Confederation, made up of the 27 member states, Ukraine and Georgia and Moldova, and then North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. . The goal is for Ukraine to become part of the European family right now and allow the other countries that aspire to join to participate in the public life of the Union and share the main strategic choices. An institution, that of the European Confederation, that does not modify the Union but that is at its side.

It is not a change in the institutional life of the EU, but a strong political response to the ambitions of millions of people who would like to anchor their own destiny to that of the Union.

The European Confederation would not even undermine the times and procedures necessary for an orderly accession to the EU, thus avoiding running into dangerous accelerations for the proper functioning of our Union.

In this way we will avoid repeating the mistakes made after 1989, when Europe led a fair and necessary enlargement campaign but with quick accelerations and sudden stops, which have ended up generating resentment in the newcomers and distrust in the old members. Successive events in Hungary, Poland or the Visegrad Group demonstrate this.

Mykola Fedienko, 73, a resident of Zahaltsi (near Kyiv) in front of her house in ruins by Russian bombs

Alexey Furman/Getty

Putin’s war, which is attacking a country always exposed to attempts at Russian hegemony, confirms how important it has been to welcome these countries and how important it will be for other Europeans to join the Union to anchor them in democracy and protect them.

The European Confederation would be the place of political dialogue between the 36 members. With them you could discuss the common decisions that have to do with the European continent, define global strategies on peace, security, fight against climate change. Promote a fair and sustainable development model.

In this way, we would improve our ability to decide together, from now on, in view of a future accession that must respect the established times.

At the same time, this idea should go hand in hand with greater integration within the EU, abolishing the veto power in those strategic areas that still work with the intergovernmental method. The Confederation is, therefore, a new way of dealing with the enlargement of the Union, even pushing for its deepening towards a federal architecture.

Putin’s war represents an epochal change in our history.

The Europe of tomorrow will be different, in any case different.

And now is the time to take courageous decisions to guarantee the Union a future of security, peace and prosperity.

Europe is our common home: let’s make it bigger, welcoming those who aspire to peace and democracy. Let’s reform it, making it more solid.

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