This late spring marks a year since Ukraine turned into an authority possibility for European Association (EU) enrollment under a sped up process following Russia’s intrusion. Kyiv presently sits at the doorstep of the discussions stage, which could begin this year as per EU authorities.
The “Copenhagen criteria,” a set of political, legal, and economic membership conditions, necessitated extensive reforms at this stage, which historically has been the longest, most technical, and most bureaucratic part of the process.
The European Commission made a recommendation in June 2022 to give Ukraine the status of a candidate with the “understanding” that Kyiv would have to take seven steps to improve standards for anti-corruption and the rule of law.
Kyiv as of late expressed that it has followed every one of these circumstances. The EU must now determine whether Ukraine met fundamental requirements before the stringent negotiation process can begin.
While Ukraine’s advancement from candidate to competitor status was quick, promoters ought to treat assumptions for resulting ventures toward enrollment; They won’t be as quick or easy. Similar to the current EU hopefuls from the Western Balkans, Kyiv may be in pre-negotiation limbo. As a point of reference, it took approximately two years for Belgrade and Podgorica to begin negotiations after achieving candidate status.
After becoming a candidate in 2014, Tirana waited six years before beginning formal negotiations, whereas Skopje waited 15 years before beginning negotiations with Brussels. Every country had a specific arrangement of difficulties disallowing their advancement, however these barriers were not even close to Ukraine’s problem of battling off an attacking military before beginning talks.
The 2020 revision of the EU’s new accession methodology aims to “make enlargement a more credible, predictable, and dynamic” In any case, this altered methodology probably won’t yield quicker results for Ukraine or current competitors.
EU promotion is grounded in “basics,” like specialized, legitimate, and regulatory changes including law and order, working majority rule organizations, and policy management change. Fundamentals chapters are first and last, and current EU candidates face a challenge due to systemic corruption and political inefficiencies.
Geopolitical Considerations and Technical Realities
Geopolitical Factors and Technical Facts EU leaders warned that Ukraine’s process of joining will take time, implying that technical criteria are the only way to join. However, the geopolitical undercurrents and the EU’s political determination to guide Ukraine’s application cannot be ignored.
This isn’t about whether Ukraine should join the EU; rather, it’s about whether it’s ready to join and whether the EU will overlook necessary reforms because of geopolitical challenges. Besides, how might the Western Balkans – who have been in different phases of the promotions cycle for north of 10 years – decipher Brussels’ choices in the event that Ukraine bounces the line?
Some countries in the Western Balkans are questioning whether or not membership is a distant or even likely possibility due to the technical nature of the negotiations for accession, the extensive reforms, and the bloc’s previous enlargement fatigue.
In some candidate countries, public support for the EU has significantly decreased as a result of the pace. In light of this specific circumstance, how might the EU adjust international contemplations and competitors’ abilities for change?
Other EU hopefuls may be further alienated if Ukraine’s negotiations are accelerated by prioritizing geopolitical circumstances over technical reforms. Given the Balkan applicant’s involvement in dealings, one can address whether specialized measures or international contemplations outweigh everything else in participation talks.
For instance, Bulgaria’s and Romania’s ability to join was closely monitored, but they did so in the end, establishing a “stable political and economic anchor in a region surrounded by unstable neighbors” and erasing “geographic divisions left over from the Cold War.”
Both nations joined the EU despite serious problems with corruption, the rule of law, and crime, with special requirements for cooperation and verification. This represents the exchange of preparation, in light of specialized models, offset with the essential contemplations associated with reconciliation.
While Russia’s intrusion has recharged the EU’s development drive and opened banters about Brussels’ job as an international entertainer, the promotion cycle for competitors ought to remain grounded in their capacity to establish vital changes and principles.
Although the war between Russia and Ukraine presents significant strategic challenges for the EU, Kyiv’s eventual membership should not be the primary consideration. The EU’s credibility would be further harmed and trust in the accession process would be eroded if, for strategic reasons, Ukraine’s path to the EU was given priority while Western Balkan nations’ desire to join the bloc was ignored.
The EU should likewise gauge its ability to “coordinate new individuals.” Membership has an institutional impact that necessitates “reforming decision-making procedures.” Besides, Ukraine and the Western Balkans would be among the least fortunate part states across different monetary measures. What difficulties would Kyiv’s accelerated membership bring to the Ukrainian economy and the EU? If reforms are neglected, Kyiv will have a harder time joining the new club, and Brussels will have a harder time fully integrating Ukraine and its problems.
The war’s strategic challenge adds to the number of difficult questions the EU must answer. Brussels must find a way to carry out its initiative for enlargement while maintaining a balance between the ambitions of candidates and the realities of reform, which will undoubtedly affect the pace of negotiations.
EU Accessions During War
Ukraine’s accession to the EU during the war is further complicated by Russia’s invasion. While the intrusion brought about a positive result for Ukraine’s EU application at first, the conflict’s goal will direct how rapidly Kyiv joins the club.
In the context of this conflict, the term “victory” is somewhat ambiguous, but Russian might achieve a battlefield victory that would stymie any hope of Ukraine joining the EU. Dependable predications propose that Russia misses the mark on fundamental ability to possess Ukraine totally. Yet, Moscow could accomplish a restricted “triumph” where it understands a portion of its essential results.
By extension, Russia’s potential victory would accomplish the Kremlin’s strategic goal of distancing Ukraine from the West. Prior to 2014, Moscow’s goal was to bring Ukraine back into its sphere of influence. For this situation, the West’s work, assets, and political help for Ukraine would be a sunk expense. The West ought to keep providing the Ukrainians with substantial financial, political, and military assistance in order to avoid this scenario.
A ceasefire or armistice is another possibility that could bring relative calm but not lasting peace. This option would put an end to active hostilities, opening the door to a peace agreement to address the root causes of the conflict. However, rather than a prelude to a negotiated settlement, a negotiated ceasefire could also serve as the foundation for a frozen conflict, igniting resentment and laying the groundwork for new fighting.
Russia’s underlying attack in 2014 and late acceleration in 2022 is complex, yet halfway attached in Kyiv’s choice to additionally coordinate and fall in line with the EU and NATO. In the event that ongoing threats end as per a truce, Russia could continuously raise once Kyiv starts to crawl westward.
Both Minsk Arrangements saw rehashed infringement by the two sides, eventually neglecting to forestall the 2022 attack. A truce’s failure to accomplish its essential result can hence be utilized as a strategic or functional delay all the while assuming a pretense of an honest intentions consent to end threats.
Despite prolonged periods of relative calm, frozen conflicts have a way of thawing and igniting into fierce fighting. The Second Nagorno-Karabakh struggle is a new illustration of a decades-in length spat reigniting after still up in the air to determine questioned regional inquiries and accomplish their essential objectives.
A frozen conflict would open the door to further conflict regardless of whether it is resolved through an agreement. Persistent threats of new conflict would highlight lingering territorial disputes and unanswered questions regarding Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Under the implied threat of a frozen conflict, how would the EU weigh the risks of further integrating Ukraine? The EU would need to weigh its options if this scenario came true: either continue integration efforts with Ukraine at the risk of Russian-instigated new violence, or allow the frozen conflict to continue at the expense of Ukraine’s future in the EU. Ukraine’s EU enrollment way would be classified by an absence of progress, baffling policymakers.
For its membership objectives, the most desirable outcome is a victory for Ukraine. However, Ukraine’s accession would not necessarily be immediate even if it were to regain all or most of the disputed and conquered territory, including Crimea. The psychological and physical wounds caused by war would have to be dealt with in a Ukraine after the war.
Kyiv would need to re-incorporate pieces of the country that haven’t been influenced quite a bit by starting around 2014 – a troublesome and complex cycle. The Donbas and Crimea incline toward Moscow’s impact over the EU and would be in conflict with Ukraine’s Western direction. Rule of law and reconciliation would have to be at the foundation of reintegrating conflicted regions and consolidating democracy.
After winning back disputed territory through military means, retaliation, retribution, and refugee columns would be against the most fundamental EU values, making Ukraine’s goals for joining the EU more difficult.
Patience and dedication would be required during the difficult postwar period of reintegration, reconstruction, and accession-based reforms. Even if other priorities increasingly take precedence in EU capitals, it would also require steadfast and sustained Western financial and political support post-conflict. It is unknown whether the West will continue to support Ukraine in this scenario, but it would be necessary to prevent further conflict and keep Ukraine on the path to EU membership.
The specialized troubles of EU promotion, confirmed in the encounters of Western Balkan nations, combined with Ukraine’s dynamic clash, make the possibility of quick EU increase improbable. The EU should still accept Ukraine, despite this. It only demonstrates the reality of EU membership, which necessitates candidates undergoing extensive reforms before joining.
These changes ought not be ignored as they risk new individuals’ true capacity for outcome in the EU. It will take a lot of money to rebuild Ukraine, and it won’t be easy for EU institutions to take on the burden of absorbing such a large nation. Brussels must now balance a plethora of factors that are certain to complicate its goals while simultaneously welcoming new members.