Germany’s Scholz says EU must reform before it can admit Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Wednesday that the EU must reform its voting rules in key areas such as foreign policy before it can admit new member countries like Ukraine.

Speaking to the Bundestag in Berlin ahead of a European Council summit this Thursday and Friday in Brussels, Scholz said he would resolutely push for approving both Ukraine and Moldova as candidates for EU membership, but stressed that such a commitment comes with strings attached.

“I will make every effort at the European Council to ensure that the entire EU gives an unanimous ‘yes’” to Ukraine and Moldova’s membership candidacy bids, the chancellor said, while demanding that the EU must also be made “capable of taking on new members.”

He argued that the bloc should change its voting rules to qualified majority to stop individual countries from blocking decisions. He specifically mentioned foreign policy as one area where such a change was needed.

Scholz has previously said that a change in voting rules could be swiftly decided if all EU countries gave their approval. However, several EU countries, including France, have already raised objections to ceding their veto power in key areas like foreign policy.

The German chancellor also advocated in favor of broader “institutional reforms” of the EU, which would likely require complex treaty change, and said that such reforms “should be used to strengthen democracy and the rule of law in the EU.”

He further called for a “Marshall Plan” to rebuild Ukraine after the war, and said that Germany would push for creating a “high-level international expert conference” to coordinate reconstruction efforts.

Scholz also said that Ukraine and Russia were still “far, far away” from peace negotiations “because [Russian President Vladimir] Putin still believes in the possibility of a dictatorial peace” being imposed upon his neighbor.

Therefore, Scholz said, Germany and its allies must “steadfastly” maintain sanctions against Russia as well as keep up weapons deliveries to Ukraine “until Putin finally recognizes his colossal miscalculation.”