Ukraine Joining the EU: an Unsustainable Chimera

The decision taken on Dec. 15 by the European Council (minus Hungary, whose Prime minister Viktor Orban left the room before the vote) to start negotiations on Ukraine’s entry into the European Union is, at best, divorced from reality and, at worst, a cruel deception. Immediate aid to Ukraine was blocked, while the process of entry into the EU, if ever concluded, will only take place long after all current EU heads of government are out of power.

While the European mainstream media outdid one another in praising the decision, the Washington Post described quite aptly what it would mean for the EU to have Ukraine join as a member state.

The article points out that Ukraine is the fifth most populous country in Europe, so that it would count for 9% in qualified majority votes (at least 55% of member countries with at least 65% of the population, the system with which many decisions are taken in the EU). And it is by far the poorest, so it would absorb most of the subsidies, assuming the rules remain the same.

In terms of qualified majority voting, if Ukraine joins, Germany would be reduced from having 18.6% of the vote to 16.9%. Poland and Ukraine together would have the same power as Germany.

Perhaps the Post does not suspect that this is exactly what some in the EU would like to see. Then, there’s the entire military-strategic angle, which is not touched upon, given that an EU member is de facto a member of NATO.

There are many in Brussels, according to the Washington Post, who believe that to absorb Ukraine and other countries, the EU will have to reform its key institutions, including the Parliament, as well as its agricultural policies. If European farmers now receive subsidies of just over €183 per hectare farmed, Ukrainians are expected to receive billions of euros, given the extent of the land cultivated. In Poland, farmers have already been protesting against Ukrainian grain exports overland because of the negative impact on domestic prices. Before the war, Ukraine exported 20 million tons of wheat per year, amounting to the equivalent of one-third of total EU exports. Poland, in contrast, exports only 4 million tons a year.

GDP per capita in Ukraine in 2021 was $4,470. The same year in Bulgaria, the poorest country in the EU, it was at €10,700, according to IMF data. The cost of reconstruction and recovery once the war is ended will exceed €366 billion, according to an estimate by the EU Commission, the World Bank and the UN done after the first year of the conflict. Therefore, between promises and deeds, one can expect there will be a large gap.

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