Ukraine's bleak prospects for EU membership

The crisis seems to be a perfect tool for cooling off those who still hold out some hope of the speedy and full-fledged EU membership

“Open up, Owl, the bear has arrived!” cried out Winnie-the-Pooh knocking hard at the door. And the Owl opened the door just in case. Ukraine has been knocking on the door of the European Union too. But the door is still shut. The EU is far too busy at the moment tackling its own constitutional crisis and therefore Ukraine is not on the agenda.

The Ukrainian Ambassador to Austria Vladimir Elchenko stated that Ukraine was highly unlikely to join the EU in the next few years. According to the diplomat, the situation largely stems from the crisis caused by the rejection of the draft EU constitution in France and the Netherlands. “We can appreciate that today is not the best time for our knocking on the EU door,” said Mr. Elchenko. Besides, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk has recently admitted that the EU did not regard Ukraine as a possible member state of the Union. “Today we have to face up to the fact that the EU does not regard Ukraine as a good prospect for joining the organization,” said Mr. Tarasyuk at an international conference on the EU enlargement issues. He also cited the aggravations caused by the constitutional crisis. Well, someone should have conjured up the crisis if it was not in place already. The crisis seems to be a perfect tool for cooling off those who still hold out some hope of the speedy and full-fledged EU membership.

However, the European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Joaquin Almunia said earlier last week that the EU might reach an agreement with Ukraine on associated membership in 2008. Mr. Almunia pointed out that implementation of  the EU-Ukraine bilateral plan did not depend on the outcome of ratification process i.e. the negative results in the referendums on the draft EU constitution in France and the Netherlands would not have an impact on the implementation of the plan, free-zone trade talks, and the agreement on associated EU membership. A number of reasons could be cited for that matter. Meanwhile, Ukraine can only wait and hope for the better. There is no point in knocking on the closed door.

Jose Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, said earlier this year that “there are no new entries on the EU enlargement list apart from those which have been recently agreed upon by the European Council.” Paris and Berlin expressed similar opinions. The situation looks quite clear: the EU will not stand the test of taking Ukraine in. Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament Elmar Brok did not beat about the bush while speaking out on the issue: “We will choke if we let Ukraine in.” Benita Ferrero-Waldner, an official with foreign policy committee of the commission, said that “the EU should carefully examine its potential in terms of further enlargement.” Making Ukraine a new EU member state “would be a counterproductive move”, the above official was quoted as saying. The French foreign ministry believes that the EU should apply the membership standards for new countries in a tougher manner. Some French experts indicate that the failure of referendums on the draft EU constitution in France and Holland was partly due to the voters' concerns about possible integration of Turkey and Ukraine into the EU.  

Timofey Golovashkin

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Author`s name Olga Savka