‘Too complicated to handle’ Frost warns EU to facing nightmare over Ukraine joining bloc

Brexit: Frost says 'we drifted away from those who elected us'

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The former Brexit minister last night suggested the bloc is facing a “series of dilemmas” over how to respond to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s request for EU membership. He said Kiyv did not meet the traditional criteria to join the group – but that the EU could fudge the application to provide a new “political European status”.

However, Lord Frost hinted such a solution would open up Brussels to claims of special treatment with other countries not offered similar options.

He told a Policy Exchange event: “The application by Ukraine is going to prove quite complicated for the EU to handle.

“They obviously don’t want to say no, but obviously equally, Ukraine doesn’t remotely come near to the traditional criteria that has been applied to EU membership.

“But if they end up offering some sort of political European status to Ukraine that doesn’t have any actual obligation, then why is that an offer for others as well?

“I think it opens quite a lot of dilemmas for the EU that they are only beginning to think about.”

When the UK was negotating its Brexit agreement, negotiators were told Britain could not “have its cake and eat it”.

Britain wanted to quit the EU’s economic and political obligations but remain close partners – collaborating in areas of mutal interest.

Brussels rejected attempts for the UK to continue partcipating in science programmes and intelligence sharing.

Ministers were accused of wanting to “have their cake and eat it” with the suggestions.

The response to the Ukraine crisis has led to fractures within the European Union.

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Gaps have emerged on how far the bloc should go in punishing Russia for its actions.

While former communist states – who largely joined the bloc at a later date – are urging for tougher sanctions to be imposed, members such as Italy and Germany are more hesitant.

Berlin is largely reliant on Russia for energy and would be severely impacted by sanctions imposed to punish Vladimir Putin.

In the early stages of sanctions drafting against Moscow, a ban on the import of Russian coal was considered until the European Union’s biggest economy Germany struck it down, two sources told Reuters.

At an extraordinary summit of EU leaders last night, frictions over energy dependence continued to dominate the agenda.

Latvia’s prime minister, Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš said: “Energy sanctions immediately are a way to stop money flowing into Putin’s coffers.

“Every day that we delay sanctioning Russia’s economy, Russia maintains the ability to feed its military machine.”

However, German chancellor Olaf Scholz said ahead of the summit that to stop using Russian energy “from one day to the next would mean plunging our country and all of Europe into recession”.

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