Obtaining the status of a candidate for EU membership for a country at war is a symbolic political decision that expresses the support of Ukraine by the European Union in countering racist aggression.
The same French President Emmanuel Macron said that if a full-scale war had not started in Ukraine, then Ukraine would not have received candidate status so quickly. In other words, as of February 23, we did not have such prospects. Even when, when signing an association agreement with the EU, we wanted to include in the document simply the theoretical possibility of Ukraine joining the EU someday, European officials refused us this.
At the same time, the euphoria that has covered the Ukrainian society in connection with obtaining the status of a candidate is the main positive, albeit a momentary moment. Since obtaining such a status means raising the spirit of Ukrainians, opening up new prospects for Ukraine. Ukrainian society has a colossal incentive to change for the better.
At the same time, the euphoria that has covered the Ukrainian society in connection with obtaining the status of a candidate is the main positive, albeit a momentary moment.
The second positive point is that candidate status opens up opportunities for us to receive additional funding for reforms to start the process of real accession. This status will make it easier to receive financial assistance from the EU. New mechanisms and tools will appear.
The next positive moment is an additional incentive for Ukrainian officials to carry out the necessary reforms, which the EU and the US have been telling us about for at least the last eight years. Unfortunately, those 144 reforms reported by the previous president and government were only facades, but did not change the system. Now, with a high degree of probability, European bureaucrats will put pressure on Ukrainian officials to carry out reforms in the economy, fight corruption, reform the judiciary and others. Alas, without such control, these reforms in Ukraine do not move forward.
But there are also negative points. The main thing, given the peculiarities of Ukrainian officials of all time, is that they will represent Ukraine’s obtaining the status of an EU candidate as a huge victory (as it was with visa-free travel, with political association with the EU). This can relax the Ukrainian government, and it will not carry out reforms, but will consider that the goal has already been achieved. Although the status of a candidate is only an intermediate stage. And the authors of this victory are not officials, but the armed forces of Ukraine, which, repelling Russian aggression, impressed European officials so much that they decided to speed up the moment Ukraine received such a status.
Another point worth remembering is that candidate status does not give any guarantee that a country will eventually join the EU. The most obvious example is Turkey. Even in the last century, she received the status of a candidate, but has not yet joined. On the other hand, the example of Turkey can be traced and positive aspects. At the time of granting the status of a candidate, she was very economically weak. The Ukrainian economy at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union in terms of potential was in better shape than the Turkish one. But over the years, Turkey has carried out a number of structural reforms in the economy and has reached the level that allowed it to enter the G20.
Another thing to remember is that the status of a candidate does not give any guarantee that the country will eventually join the EU.
Therefore, much depends on the political elites. When they are interested, as was the case in Turkey, the country has achieved high results. We have problems with the political elite. And there are fears that in the next elections they will beat their chests and present the new status of Ukraine as a victory, although their role in this is minimal, and many reforms need to be carried out before real results.
And one more negative point – the huge bureaucracy of the EU, a large number of officials and a cumbersome tax system made the economies of the EU countries inefficient and uncompetitive, led to economic stagnation. The bureaucracy has expanded so much, the requirements for taxation, the very amount of taxes has increased, and this has led to a slowdown in economic growth. Therefore, if such a policy is imposed on us, it can lead to stagnation of the Ukrainian economy, already destroyed by the war. Simply copying the EU model at this stage, according to a number of leading economists, is inappropriate.
Maxim Yali, PhD in Political Science, Professor of the National Aviation University, Corresponding Member of the Academy of Political Sciences of Ukraine