Statements and promises as the EU caravan enters Kyiv

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Good morning. In EU corruption news, the European parliament complied with a police request to lift the Italian socialist’s immunity Andrea Cozzolino and his Belgian comrade Marc Tarabellawho allegedly received cash payments of approximately €130,000 from foreign governments.

In Kyiv, the EU’s top leadership has issued statements of unity that do not fully reflect reality in member states, as our man on the spot explains below. And our Athens correspondent previews Sunday’s presidential election in Cyprus, where everyone is a constant candidate.

I got the EU, baby

Ukraine’s meetings with a visiting delegation of top EU officials in Kyiv are as technocratic as you’d expect from any meeting with the European Commission, write Sam Fleming.

Background: Ukraine is a EU official candidate country and want to join quickly. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described yesterday’s meetings as “European integration day”. But many existing member states are not excited about the prospect of becoming a member.

While officials have repeatedly emphasized the symbolism of holding talks in Kyiv, the actual policy details the two sides are grappling with are very real: Ukraine’s participation in a joint gas purchase from EU, mobile roaming fees and ways to increase coverage in war-torn country.

The importance of efforts to deepen Ukraine’s integration into the single market and reduce the irritants of cross-border trade is not emphasized, but much of this can be achieved through important exchanges. dose regularly.

Pervasive is Ukraine’s accession to the EU, which will also feature prominently in many negotiations today.

Ahead of the visit, European capitals privately warned Brussels that Ukraine’s expectations for EU integration – notably the idea that accession could happen by 2026 – – got out of hand.

But while EU officials consider it futile to discuss an accession timetable, that does not mean they are determined to dampen Ukraine’s hopes of accession.

Far away from it. Committee chair Ursula von der Leyen could hardly have been more enthusiastic about the subject.

“Europe will be with you until the day the Ukrainian flag is raised where it belongs: in Brussels, in front of Berlaymont, the heart of the European Union,” she said, referring to the commission’s commission. ban. headquarters in the Belgian capital.

Back home, away from the sandbags and fatigue, the reality is that a group of member states is now deeply divided, many of whom see Ukraine’s membership as a real prospect. very remote scene.

For some, it is more realistic to pursue a gradual integration project than to hope for full integration.

But judging by von der Leyen’s public rhetoric, she’s a firm believer. Expect a boost from the top tier of commissions to be relentless.

Chart du jour: A long journey

The line chart shows the policy interest rate has increased sharply

The European Central Bank raised interest rates by half a percentage point yesterday and promise to do so next monthdiffer from their UK and US counterparts, who this week signaled that their tightening cycle is nearing its peak.

Like you used to

If you were hoping for a big change in Cypriot politics from this Sunday’s presidential election, Eleni Varvitsioti there’s news for you.

The top three candidates are not strangers. They all have close ties to the current right-wing president, Nicos Anastasiades, who has been in power since 2013 and has led the country out of the eurozone financial crisis and revived the banking system. of the island.

Background: Anastasiades’ tenure is tainted by a corruption scandal in it Cyprus is issued a passport to thousands of wealthy foreigners, including criminals, before the program was discontinued. No clear winner is expected in the first round on Sunday, with a final scheduled for February 12.

The leading candidate in the polls, Nikos Christodoulides, has enjoyed a huge rise in his career, starting as a government spokesman — the EU bubble may remember the elections. his briefings during the presidency of the Cyprus council — before serving as foreign minister from 2018 to 2022 under Anastasiades.

Christodoulides decided to run as an independent, a blow to his centre-right DYSI party, which currently divides voters between him and its leader, Averof Neofytou, who currently stands. second in the polls.

The third candidate is Andreas Mavroyiannis, a seasoned diplomat backed by the leftist Akel party, best known as the chief negotiator in the talks to reunify the island since 2013.

So no one expects a fresh start, especially the incumbent. As Anastasiades was heard to say at social gatherings, whoever was elected would be “my boy. . . One is my foreign minister, the other is my party leader, and the third is my negotiator.”

What to watch today

  1. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz received Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Berlin for talks this afternoon. The following press conference.

  2. Prime Ministers of the three Baltic countries meet in Tallinn, from 10 am.

  3. European Parliament President Roberta Metsola visits Irish President Michael Higgins.

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