December 06, 2023

Wanted: A reality check on Ukraine’s EU accession

When the European Union’s heads of state and government convene in Brussels on December 14-15, they will debate opening accession negotiations with Ukraine. Despite last-minute objections by Hungary, the European Council appears likely to give Kyiv the green light—if not now, then in the months to come. Such a decision, following the European Commission’s recent recommendation based on Ukraine’s progress toward reforms, would be a welcome signal of the bloc’s willingness to decisively respond to the geopolitical imperative of anchoring Ukraine in the West following Russia’s full-scale invasion. Yet it will nonetheless paper over the monumental elephant in the room: the reality of ongoing brutal fighting in Ukraine with no end in sight.

Instead of offering dubious timelines for full membership based on wishful thinking, Brussels should work to integrate Ukraine as far as is possible under the conditions of conflict

As long as Ukraine remains actively engaged in hostilities with Russia, it will be unable to become a full member of the European Union. The biggest reason for this is the existence of the European Union’s mutual defense clause, which “provides that if a member state is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other member states have an obligation to aid and assist it by all the means in their power.” If fighting continues, therefore, full Ukrainian EU membership would likely require direct intervention by other member states—a nonstarter in virtually every case.

Read the full article from Encompass Europe.

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