On the identical day, February 28, he requested that the EU “urgently admit Ukraine utilizing a brand new process … our aim is to be with all Europeans and, to be equal to them. I’m certain we deserve it. I’m certain it’s potential.”
The next 12 months, Russia invaded Donbas and illegally annexed Crimea.
Whereas most European nations are firmly behind Ukraine and have, to various levels, aided Zelensky in his battle efforts, it’s miles from sure that his want shall be granted.
For political and procedural causes, it’s potential that the EU finally decides that now isn’t the fitting time. And even when they did agree with European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen’s opinion that Ukraine needs to be thought-about for membership, it might take years, even many years, for it to grow to be a actuality.
This is why.
What’s the course of for becoming a member of the EU?
On paper, the method is comparatively easy. A rustic applies and the Fee offers a verdict on whether or not or not it needs to be thought-about for candidacy. As is more likely to be the case with Ukraine, the Fee will in all probability current a number of methods for member states to go about accepting a brand new candidate.
It’s broadly believed that the Fee will current two choices relating to Ukraine, each of which quantity to primarily the identical factor, with some minor variations: that Ukraine’s accession will solely begin correctly as soon as the battle is over and the nation’s establishments are in a position to meet the standards required to hitch the EU.
The Copenhagen Standards is a reasonably opaque trio of necessities that the EU should be glad a candidate state has met so as to enter the correct accession negotiations. They give attention to whether or not or not that nation has a functioning free-market financial system, if the nation’s establishments are match to uphold European values similar to human rights and the EU’s interpretation of the rule of legislation and whether or not the nation has a functioning, inclusive democracy.
As soon as the nation has deemed to have met this standards, they’ll start the EU’s 35 chapters of negotiation, the ultimate three of which return to some areas of the Copenhagen Standards.
Then, when the leaders of the EU member states have agreed, it should then be ratified within the EU Parliament and by the legislative branches of every member state’s authorities.
How do EU international locations really feel about Ukraine becoming a member of the EU?
That is the place it begins to get difficult. Whereas the EU and its 27 members have broadly supported Ukraine in its battle effort, having a rustic that is at the moment at battle begin the accession course of raises all types of points.
There are a variety of candidate states which have been within the accession course of for years, and have in some instances had their accession slowed down due to home political instability. One instance of that is the case of Turkey, whose utility has been primarily frozen following fears over a backslide over the rule of legislation and human rights. Beginning the method with a rustic at the moment at battle will increase questions from different candidate states who’ve had their purposes equally frozen.
There are additionally actual issues that Ukraine is a great distance from assembly the Copenhagen Standards any time quickly. Based on Transparency Worldwide’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, Ukraine is 122nd on its listing of 180 international locations. For comparability, Russia sits in 136th place. Provided that elements of Ukraine are at the moment occupied by Russia and might be lengthy after the battle is over, it’s arduous to foretell if this improves or worsens within the coming years. Some EU officers have additionally expressed fears that after the battle, it’s arduous to inform what human rights will seem like inside Ukraine.
Past these sensible questions, there are political objections too. Some Western member states who’ve been within the EU from the beginning are anxious in regards to the stability of energy shifting eastwards, the place some international locations have been backsliding on issues just like the rule of legislation in recent times. The European institution has struggled with each Hungary and Poland taking part in free with the EU guidelines and is studying the arduous manner that after a rustic is inside, they’ll get away with much more.
Different member states are involved about Ukraine becoming a member of the bloc and instantly consuming an enormous quantity of the EU price range due to the large rebuilding train that can must be undertaken.
And a few merely specific concern that getting Ukraine into a protracted, painful negotiation with the EU isn’t one of the simplest ways to help the nation at this second in time.
How lengthy wouldn’t it take?
It actually is determined by what state Ukraine is in when battle ends. It appears extremely unlikely that Ukraine shall be wherever close to assembly the standards to even begin negotiations for a big time period after the tip of the battle. Except for the rebuilding mission, Ukraine must make the transition from a rustic working beneath varied levels of martial legislation and curfews to a functioning democracy.
The typical time for a rustic to hitch the EU is 4 years and 10 months, in keeping with the London suppose tank, UK in a Altering Europe. Member states that is perhaps thought-about a type of blueprint for Ukraine’s membership — Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Slovenia — had been everywhere in the common wait time.
What would becoming a member of the EU imply for Ukraine?
Ukraine could be a member of the world’s largest buying and selling bloc, the EU’s single market and customs union, and would have the safety of EU courts and entry to the EU price range.
Becoming a member of the EU would additionally place Ukraine very clearly within the membership of nations which are thought-about to be a part of the Western alliance and US-led world order.
How may Russia react?
Moscow has beforehand mentioned that becoming a member of the EU could be on a par with becoming a member of NATO, a degree more durable to push again towards now that the EU is changing into so overtly geopolitical.
Russia has already reacted very badly to the suggestion that Finland and Sweden, EU member states, may be part of NATO. Seeing Ukraine warmly embraced by an establishment so related to the West will little question be seen as an act of aggression by Putin.
How possible is Ukraine’s bid to succeed?
It will not occur quickly, however it’s possible that the EU will make a particular effort to help Ukraine following its invasion by Russia.
Many European leaders have been to go to Zelensky in Kyiv, and the considering amongst some officers is that they can’t come out of the leaders’ summit on June 24 empty-handed after posing for photographs alongside an actual war-time president.
If von der Leyen does current the member states together with her caveated model of accepting Ukraine’s candidacy, it might be tough for the EU to reject it outright.
However the EU has a protracted historical past of doing sudden issues, even all through this disaster. And as a rule, these debates grow to be a battle of attrition amongst international locations unable to see eye-to-eye, earlier than being kicked into the lengthy grass for one more day.