The Ukraine War has revealed the true power in Europe and it does not reside inside Germany’s Bundestag or the French Parliament, but rather in Brussels with the European Commission.
The Wall Street Journal noted the significance of the commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen’s visit to Ukraine last week, which we document in detail in this week’s issue.
The paper noted that the commission’s leadership is unelected and proposes “policies and legislation to Europe’s national leaders and the European Parliament, the EU’s one directly elected body. It hasn’t traditionally offered political leadership, and stepping into the role can leave it exposed to backlash if things go wrong.”
Not all countries are comfortable with this power shift. Hungary has clashed with the European Commission over its decision to withhold 22 billion euros of EU cohesion funds over concerns about the country’s judiciary independence and other rights.
Part of the reason that the commission has taken such a leading role in the conflict is due to inner struggles between countries like France and Germany over the best approach to the Ukraine War. The U.K. is no longer a part of the bloc.
The WSJ noted that it was the commission and the U.S. that came up with sanction packages to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has taken the lead role in what would be the rebuilding of the country if the war ever comes to an end.
TRENDPOST: The commission has raised 18 billion euros in emergency funding for Ukraine in 2023, according to The WSJ to make sure the war continues. Von der Leyen also announced last week that Ukraine will “join now or will join later this year the EU internal market, justice program, citizens program [Europe for Citizens program].”
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensk has tried to move the process of full membership along, and said last week that he hopes Kyiv will officially join the EU by the end of 2023. Brussels last year gave Ukraine a list of seven reforms needed to achieve full membership, which included a crackdown on corruption.
This EU bid seems to have similarities to Ukraine’s effort to join NATO – a lot of talk, no action. (See “UKRAINE: ZELENSKY TRIES TO JOIN NATO AGAIN AND MAKE WWIII OFFICIAL,” “NATO WILL NOT INTERVENE IF RUSSIA USES NUKES: MEDVEDEV” and “MEDVEDEV WARNS OF ARMAGEDDON AS U.S. AND NATO RAMP UP UKRAINE WAR.”)
Von der Leyen avoided any concrete timeline and, standing beside Zelensky, said, “I’m confident that you will keep up the good pace because you know what is good for your country. And these reforms will anchor Ukraine in our family of free and liberal democracies.”