The French president is leading the talks in Versailles where he was seen smiling as he welcomed counterparts from the bloc’s member states. Russia’s invasion of Europe’s second largest country and the EU’s energy supply are set to dominate the two-day meeting.
Mr Macron’s appearance drew accusations of electioneering on social media as the president seeks re-election. The first round of voting is on April 10.
One French Twitter user, in a translated tweet, fumed: “Macron receives European leaders in Versailles to talk about the crisis. They will talk about [Ukraine] and the evil Putin.
“Macron needs to be reassured by the 27 to enhance his international stature when he sucks. At the same time he will campaign his time will not be counted.”
Frexit supporter Florian Philippot accused Mr Macron of repeating a narrative of fear to maintain “submission” to the EU.
He tweeted: “Macron this evening on the war in Ukraine: ‘Worried and pessimistic’. Macron for two years on Covid: ‘Worried and pessimistic’.
“Always the same narrative of fear to maintain tension and submission! Let’s get out!”
A poll for IFOP-Fiducial 2022 For Paris Match, LCI And Sud Radio puts Mr Macron and election rival Marine Le Pen leading in the first round.
It shows Mr Macron in the lead with 31 percent, Ms Le Pen on 18 percent, Valérie Pécresse on 12.5 percent and Eric Zemmour on 12 percent.
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He added: “I want to focus on what can we do for Volodymyr Zelensky tonight, tomorrow, and EU accession of Ukraine is something for the long term, if at all.”
However, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins, whose country shares a border with Russia, said Ukraine should be granted EU candidacy status.
He also acknowledged this was only the beginning of a long and difficult road, adding: “It is important to show a clear, open door for EU membership for Ukraine, that the path is open for them to take.”
Other ex-communist countries such as Poland strongly back Ukraine’s EU bid but France, the Netherlands and others are more reluctant to suspend the regular lengthy accession process.
It took the newest member, Croatia, 10 years to join the bloc though Ukraine already has agreements on free trade as well as closer political and economic ties with the EU.
The Kremlin strongly opposes Ukraine’s push to join the EU and Nato, viewing it as a threat to Russia’s national security.
It says its “special military operation” in Ukraine is aimed at changing its pro-Western government and “demilitarising” its neighbour.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo said Europe was facing its September 11 moment in reference to the 2001 al Qaeda attacks on the US which triggered the invasion of Afghanistan and the “war on terror”.
He told Le Soir: “This war in Ukraine is Europe’s 9/11.”