Portugal FM says Ukraine’s EU membership crucial for food, economic security

Paulo Rangel
Paulo Rangel

Portugal's Foreign Minister Paulo Rangel stressed that Ukraine joining the European Union would help tackle food issues and be "of fundamental importance" to Portugal, he told the European Affairs Parliamentary Committee on May 8, as reported by Euractiv.

"The Portuguese government’s position on expansion is highly favorable for strategic reasons, and it doesn't share the previous government's reluctance or hesitation," Rangel said.

Read also: Portugal supports Kyiv’s Euro-Atlantic integration

He emphasized that Ukraine's accession represents a significant "economic opportunity" for the EU, pointing to historical trends where expansion spurred "economic dynamism." Additionally, Ukraine is a "pro-Atlantic country," he said.

"We in Europe need Atlantic allies," Rangel continued, refuting concerns that expansion would be a "turn to the east." "It's exactly the opposite: these are highly pro-Atlantic countries that will be Portugal’s partners, possibly including the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and Ireland," he said.

Read also: Portugal pledges over $100 million ammo purchase for Ukraine

"By opening up to the Atlantic, they give the Union strategic Atlantic depth."

Despite the potential, he acknowledged that if Ukraine joins the EU, farmers will face "a lot of problems" and will need compensation. "This applies to Moldova, it applies to the Balkans, it applies to Georgia," Rangel added, referencing other EU candidate countries, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkiye, Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia.

Commenting on Russia’s recent attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure, he predicted a "new wave of migration," expecting 8 to 9 million people could arrive in the EU as energy shortages render life "impossible" in Ukraine.

On EU institutional reforms, Rangel stated that Lisbon would prefer not to revise EU treaties since it would be "quicker and less divisive," but acknowledged that a "surgical amendment" might be the best approach.

Earlier, Rangel noted that Portugal, under the new government led by Prime Minister Luís Montenegro, fully supports Ukraine's EU membership.

Ukraine's accession to the EU

Ukraine had implemented 65-70% of the Association Agreement with the EU, Denys Shmyhal said in a TV interview with Bloomberg in September 2022. At the same time, at a press conference in Brussels, he said: "We have an ambition in the near future, by the end of this year or the beginning of next year, to move into the negotiation procedures that precede the actual granting of EU membership."

PM Shmyhal said in May 2023 that Ukraine should be ready to join the EU in two years.

The European Commission recommended starting negotiations on Ukraine and Moldova's accession to the EU on Nov. 8, 2023. The European Council supported the start of negotiations on Ukraine's EU membership with 26 votes on Dec. 14.

Ukraine could join the European Union in 2030, European Council President Charles Michel said previously.

Shmyhal said on March 20, 2024 that negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the European Union should begin by the end of June this year.

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