What will Ukraine's membership of the European Union change? - German expert Explains

Interviews 16:17 04.10.2023

EU to reportedly start accession talks with Ukraine by Dec.

The European Union is preparing to officially open negotiations with Ukraine on its future accession to the bloc.

Three diplomats said that the bloc is poised to give Kyiv the green light, a move that will likely be complex. However, according to one of the sources, "the working assumption is indeed that by December, the European Council will decide to open negotiations." Another person stated that the ambition "is to agree politically in December," adding that a legal decision on accepting Ukraine could occur by early 2024.

Ukraine is legally bound to fulfill seven conditions set by the Commission, among them judicial reforms and the fight against corruption. As of August, only two of the seven conditions had been met.

Sebastian Schaeffer, Director at the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM), Secretary General of the Danube Rectors’ Conference (DRC), and Associate Fellow at the Centre for Global Europe of the GLOBSEC Policy Institute in Bratislava, told Ednews that he welcomes the potential opening of negotiations with Ukraine:

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“This does, however, not mean that the country will become a member of the European Union in the near future. The overall negotiation process has taken longer and longer over the past enlargements. While I would welcome a quicker process not only for Ukraine but also for all other candidates and potential candidate countries, there is no shortcut to fulfilling the Copenhagen criteria.  Through the association agreement within the eastern partnership Ukraine has already fulfilled to a certain extent the acquis communautaire, it will nevertheless take years until a membership can become a reality, especially regarding the points you mentioned, first and foremost fight against corruption, and then of course also the judicial reform.”

The director of IDM does hope that the war will not take as long as a potential membership of Ukraine to the European Union:

“There might also be, depending on the state of war, a challenge accepting a country that is under a full-scale invasion. therefore, I do not see that membership in the EU could lead to an end of the war but NATO or substantial security guarantees would be the key here. While the end of the war is, of course, the utmost priority, a prolongation should not hinder approximation of Kyiv to the EU.”

“Points that speak against membership of Ukraine are, of course, the challenges for the single market and especially the common agricultural policy as other EU members, such as Poland would change from a beneficiary to a net payer. Although I despise the term as there is no simple math regarding receiving funds, as the overall benefits of a membership in the world’s largest single market, outweigh, whatever can be transferred from the EU budget to an individual member state. In the long term, not only Brussels, but the whole of Europe would benefit from membership of Ukraine as the population size and the significance of the union would increase again after Brexit”, S. Schaeffer added.

According to him, furthermore, having a democratic country with a prosperous economy in the direct vicinity will be a great advantage:

“All member states have always benefited - not to the same extent, but on average - tremendously from every enlargement round. Overall, we should acknowledge that the war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine is not only a heinous attack on the civilian population but a declaration of war against all our shared values.”

“Therefore we not only should support the country as long as it takes, but we also all benefit from a society that is willing to die for democracy and freedom, while some governments in Europe are actively undermining exactly these values. We should look past calculations and consequences of a new membership regarding budget and focus again more on the bigger picture. With a clear determined idea of how a successful European integration can continue to shape the future of the continent. Ultimately, the majority of the enlargement rounds have never been primarily out of economic reasons, but to help stabilize young democracies. So far, this has been the most successful EU policy”, - Sebastian Schaeffer concluded.

Ulviyya Shahin

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