Despite all the rhetoric about aiding Ukraine, the bloc simply cannot afford to have Kyiv as a member
For European Union leaders, recommending that the 27-member bloc vote to nominate Ukraine as a candidate for possible membership is like introducing your dodgy new fiancé to your parents, who are pretending to smile, knowing that the odds are slim that you will. in the aisle as a couple.
Worse, it would be as if you explained to them:I can change/fix it!” In the meantime, you know that this is a much less attractive partner than your previous ones with whom you failed to close the deal.
On the one hand, the President of the European Commissioner, Ursula von der Leyen, praised the country’s potential, based mainly on projection and wishful thinking: “Ukraine has clearly demonstrated its aspiration and determination to respect European values and standards.”
She made the proclamation the same week that Volodymyr Zelensky’s regime banned the country’s largest opposition party. But at least she admitted that thecountryshould“carry out a number of important reforms.”
You do not say ! Perhaps not turning a blind eye to neo-Nazis, or integrating them into the country’s military, would be a start. Even the US government-funded Freedom House considers “far right extremism” be “a threat to Ukrainian democracy”, citing displays of force prior to the current conflict that have disappeared “totally unpunished by the authorities”. According to the report, “Their activities challenge the legitimacy of the state, undermine its democratic institutions and discredit the country’s law enforcement agencies.
The West’s own role in arming and training neo-Nazi fighters currently serving in the Ukrainian military should also be a barrier to entry into the bloc. The same is true for creeping systemic grafting. “Corruption could mean Ukraine loses future peace,” recently wrote a European specialist from the Atlantic Council in the magazine Foreign Policy. Other Western experts, including those at the CATO Institute in Washington, have pointed to the West’s “whitewashing” of Ukraine’s corruption.
French President Emmanuel Macron, before visiting Zelensky in Kyiv with his German and Italian counterparts last week, acknowledged that effective membership would take “several decades”. As a consolation prize, Macron has suggested creating a sort of “children’s table” for Ukraine and other potential EU candidate countries, which he calls the “EU Political Community.”Will there be balloon animals, face painting and cartoons on towels at club meetings?
So, Ukraine is certainly what one might call a “fixer upper”, but Zelensky would like everyone to know that they are ready to go already. “We prove every day that we are already part of the European Union”, Zelensky said Monday.
Forget those poorly tracked Western weapons floating around Ukraine alongside mercenary foreign fighters. Ukraine is clearly ready now for full EU integration! Zelensky is ready to elope in Las Vegas with an Elvis wedding!
Just because Zelensky is being courted a lot right now doesn’t mean he’ll finally be allowed past the velvet rope at Club EU. Turkey, a NATO ally, applied to the EU’s predecessor, the European Economic Community in 1987, and was recognized as a candidate in 1999, and is still not a member. Turkey has also allowed NATO and EU countries to establish military bases on its territory for Western wars in the Middle East and Africa. He also saved the EU from being overwhelmed by migrants displaced by Western military interventions in Africa, by holding them in camps on the EU-Turkey border. Apparently, this is still not enough for Brussels. Asked this week about Ankara’s prospects of joining the bloc, von der Leyen replied that “there is no progress”
The EU has cited Turkey’s “human rights record” to justify its procrastination, and Ukraine could conceivably suffer the same fate. “Impunity for torture remained endemic. Gender-based violence remained widespread,” noted Amnesty International, in its 2021 report on Ukraine. There is also the problem that kyiv has spent the past eight years harassing and attacking its own Russian-speaking people in the Donbass.
Of course, it is always possible that the EU will rush into approving Ukraine’s membership, spitting in the face both its own declared values and standards, and in the face of Turkey as well. But then why even bother to pretend that there are requirements beyond simply having a purely political or public relations agenda?
The cost of EU enlargement has also previously been cited as a reason the bloc is not expanding faster. In other words, Germany, France, Italy and the few other net donors to the bloc simply cannot afford to pay for all of the net recipients. And Ukraine would represent a huge cost for the taxpayers of the countries that would foot the bill.
Western Europeans are already paying a heavy price for their leader’s interference in Ukraine, which has culminated in the current conflict with Russia and sent the cost of living skyrocketing. The EU really cannot afford to formalize it with Ukraine. So, will Brussels continue to chain kyiv, or take the plunge and worry about the consequences later?