For all the talk of helping Ukraine, the bloc simply can’t afford to have Kiev as a member
For the European Union’s leadership to recommend that the 27-member bloc votes to designate Ukraine as a candidate for eventual membership is like introducing your dodgy new fiancé to your parents, who fake-smile, knowing that the odds are low of you ever making it down the aisle as a couple.
Worse, it would be like you explaining to them: “I can change/fix him!” Meanwhile, you know that he’s a much less attractive partner than your previous ones with whom you failed to seal the deal.
On the one hand, EU Commissioner President Ursula von der Leyen has praised the country’s potential, based primarily on projection and wishful thinking: “Ukraine has clearly demonstrated its aspiration and determination to live up to European values and standards.”
She made this proclamation on the same week that the Volodymyr Zelensky regime banned the country’s largest opposition party. But at least she acknowledged that the country would have to “carry out a number of important reforms.”
You don’t say! Perhaps not turning a blind eye to Neo-Nazis, or not folding them into the country’s military, would be a start. Even the US government-funded Freedom House considers “far-right extremism” to be “a threat to Ukrainian democracy,” citing shows of force prior to the current conflict which have gone “fully 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 now serving in the Ukrainian army, should also be a hindrance to entering the bloc. So should rampant systemic graft. “Corruption could mean Ukraine loses a future peace,” wrote an Atlantic Council European specialist recently in Foreign Policy magazine. Other Western experts, including those at Washington’s CATO Institute, have highlighted the “whitewashing” of Ukraine’s corruption by the West.
French President Emmanuel Macron, before visiting Zelensky in Kiev with his German and Italian counterparts last week, acknowledged that actual membership would take “several decades.” As a consolation prize, Macron has suggested creating a sort of “kiddie table” for Ukraine and other potential EU candidate nations, which he calls the “EU political community.” Will there be balloon animals, face painting, and cartoons on the napkins at the club meetings?
So, Ukraine is definitely what you might call a “fixer upper,” but Zelensky would like for everyone to know that they’re already good to go. “We are proving daily that we are already a part of the European Union,» Zelensky said on Monday.
Forget those poorly tracked Western weapons floating around Ukraine alongside the foreign mercenary fighters. Ukraine is clearly ready right 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 that he’s ultimately going to be allowed to cut to the front of the velvet rope at the 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 still isn’t a member. Turkey has also allowed NATO and EU countries to establish military bases inside its territory for Western wars in the Middle East and Africa. It has 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 that’s still not enough for Brussels. When 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 foot-dragging, and Ukraine could feasibly face the same fate. “Impunity for torture remained endemic. Gender-based violence remained widespread,” noted Amnesty International, in its 2021 report on Ukraine. There’s also the issue of Kiev having spent the past eight years harassing and attacking its own Russophone people in Donbass.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that the EU could rush through Ukraine’s membership approval, spitting in the faces of both its own declared values and standards, and in Turkey’s face, too. But then why even bother pretending that there are any requirements at all beyond simply having a purely political or PR agenda?
The cost of EU enlargement has also previously been cited as a reason for the bloc not expanding faster. In other words, Germany, France, Italy and the few other net donors to the bloc simply can’t afford to pay for all of the net recipients. And Ukraine would be one heck of a major cost to taxpayers in countries footing the bill.
West Europeans are already paying a high price as the result of their leader’s meddling in Ukraine, which has culminated in the current conflict with Russia and caused the cost of living to explode. The EU really can’t afford to make it official with Ukraine. So, will Brussels just keep stringing Kiev along, or take the plunge and worry about the consequences later?
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.