The French Minister Delegate for European Affairs Clément Beaune told French radio station Radio J on Sunday that it will “probably take 15 or 20 years” for Ukraine to ascend to the EU.
But in the meantime Kyiv could enter French President Emmanuel Macron’s new political community.
Mr Beaune said: “You have to be honest. (…) If we say that Ukraine will join the EU in six months, one year or two years, we are lying.
“It’s not true. It’s probably 15 or 20 years, it’s very long.
“In the meantime, we owe the Ukrainians (…) a political project in which they can enter.”
Earlier this month, Mr Macron spoke at the European Parliament in Strasbourg where he gave details of a proposal for a new European organisation which would enable Ukraine to have a closer relationship with other members before they can officially join the bloc.
The UK could also be considered for membership of this “European political community”, reported Politico.
While Mr Macron did not offer any specifics for his plan, he acknowledged the “legitimate desire” of countries like Ukraine and others such as Moldova and Georgia to join the EU.
He said: “[This] invites us to rethink our geography and the organisation of our continent.
“Ukraine, through its combat and its courage, is already today a member of the heart of our Europe, of our family, of our Union.”
READ MORE: ‘Putting us at risk’ EU’s plot to take Britain ‘backwards’ slammed
When discussing his idea he said: “This new European organisation would allow democratic European nations adhering to our set of values to find a new space for political cooperation, security, cooperation in energy, transport, investment, infrastructure, and the movement of people, especially our youth.
“Joining it would not prejudge future membership in the European Union, necessarily, just as it would not be closed to those who have left.”
However, he stopped short of granting President Zelensky’s wish to be granted fast-track membership to the bloc.
UN organisation warns ‘famine will get worse’ by Russia’s blockade [INSIGHT]
BBC host Clive Myrie says parents always looked up to Queen [ANALYSIS]
GB News: Tempers flare over monkeypox ‘hysteria’ [LATEST]
He continued: “Even if tomorrow we granted them the status of candidate for membership of our European Union … We all know perfectly well that the process allowing them to join would take several years — in truth, probably several decades.
“And it is the truth to say this, unless we decide to lower the standards of this membership and therefore to completely rethink the unity of our Europe.”
In April, former Italian PM Enrico Letta also expressed a desire for a “European confederation” that would begin with a shared “economic area” and would ultimately have a shared defence clause.
It is not clear how either of these suggestions would differ greatly from what is already provided by the European Union.