Why Ukraine Is Not in the Union
Ukraine is not yet a member of the European Union. It has been in the process of acquiring a membership for almost five years, and the process will take a few more years to complete. That’s why the EU Commission declared on Friday that the country should be considered a candidate state.
In granting candidate status, the European Union assumed that Ukraine would be able to create the economic conditions that would enable it to join the Union in the future. However, this assumption was not a certainty. The process of becoming a full member of the EU will not be easy. There are no guarantees that it will solve Ukraine’s problems.
EU candidate status gives the applicant country a free ride to the EU, but it doesn’t provide immediate security guarantees. Moreover, there are still a number of issues that need to be addressed by Ukraine before it can achieve full membership. These include adherence to the rule of law and democratic government, civil society engagement, and the country’s economic freedom.
Some European countries are concerned about Ukraine’s human rights. Specifically, they are worried about the country’s ability to protect its citizens from corruption. Other member states are concerned that Ukraine’s emergence as a major power in the region will alter the balance of power in the East.
For decades, Eastern and central European countries were stuck behind the Iron Curtain. But Russia’s aggressive behavior has pushed them towards the EU. This has been a difficult challenge for Europe’s established powers. They’ve struggled with Hungary and Poland, which play fast and loose with EU rules.
Russia has made aggressive moves in recent years, annexing Crimea and imposing puppet governments in the Donbass. These actions have drawn the toughest sanctions in history. Yet the Russian aggression has also brought outpourings of solidarity from the European Union. A majority of Western EU member states have backed Ukraine in its war effort.
Although the EU has supported Ukrainian efforts to fight Russian aggression, there have been concerns about the country’s ability to enforce rule of law. Many European officials have pointed to the country’s need for deep political and economic reforms.
While the country has made a lot of progress on many levels, there is still much that needs to be done. The country has to meet the Copenhagen Criteria, which are a set of opaque requirements that focus on the rule of law, democracy, the country’s economic and social conditions, and its interpretation of the rule of law.
The Copenhagen Criteria also focus on a candidate country’s institutions, free-market economy, and free press. If Ukraine meets these criteria, it will be eligible to apply for associate membership. Associate membership will give the country stronger functional links to the EU institutions. Moreover, it will be upgraded from the current association agreement.
The process of EU enlargement has been buffeted by a pandemic, economic crises, and the arrival of new members. It has also been challenged by existing members that have violated the rules.