Europe

‘We want Ukraine in the European Union,’ Italy’s premier says

'There can be no equivalence between those who invade and those who resist,' says Mario Draghi

Alvise Armellini   | 03.05.2022
‘We want Ukraine in the European Union,’ Italy’s premier says

ROME

The EU should expand its borders and welcome in Ukraine and the Western Balkans, the Italian prime minister said in a Tuesday speech focused on the bloc’s response to Russia’s war on its neighbor.

In an address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Mario Draghi said the Russian war on Ukraine “has called into question the European Union’s greatest achievement – peace in our continent.”

He said the EU should react by accelerating European integration, taking fewer decisions by unanimity – thus reducing national veto powers – and building a joint foreign and defense policy.

Draghi also called for a resumption of EU enlargement, with the “immediate opening” of membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia, and new outreach efforts to countries further behind in the process, such as Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina.

“We support the accession [to the EU] of all these [Western Balkan] countries and we want Ukraine in the European Union,” the Italian premier said, urging the bloc to “proceed as quickly as possible.”

Draghi, a former president of the European Central Bank famous for pledging to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro, also called on the EU to be steadfast in its support of Ukraine.

“In a war of aggression, there can be no equivalence between those who invade and those who resist. We want Ukraine to remain a free, democratic, sovereign country,” he said.

“Protecting Ukraine means protecting ourselves, it means protecting the project of security and democracy that we have built together over the past seventy years. Helping Ukraine means, above all, working for peace,” Draghi added.

In his speech, the Italian leader renewed his proposal for a price cap on gas purchases from Russia, to reduce the “exorbitant” energy bills currently weighing down EU economies, and to further undermine Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war effort.

He also said the EU, building on its existing SURE loan program against unemployment, should offer more low-interest credit to member states to fund measures against rising energy prices and offering support to people on low incomes.

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