Here’s Why Ukraine Aims for EU Membership and What’s Next

The leaders of the European Union (EU) voted unanimously to approve Ukraine’s candidacy to join the 27-nation bloc, which EU President Ursula von der Leyen said showed unity in the face of “Russian imperialism.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was grateful for the bloc’s quick approval, tweeting that “Ukraine’s future is in the EU.”
In Ukraine, politics is divided into pro-European or pro-Russian stances rather than left-wing or right-wing ideology, as evidenced by .
Mr. Zelensky was elected for his ambition to help Ukraine join the EU and break free from the Kremlin’s influence over the running of his country.

But Ukraine is only a candidate, not a member state, and there are still hurdles to overcome before Ukrainians join the bloc.

Why Ukraine wants EU membership

Ukrainian Ambassador to Australia Vasily Miroshnichenko told SBS News that he is excited about the economic opportunities his country will open up if it joins the EU.

“The EU is going to create many opportunities – many opportunities to change the country in order to build a prosperous society, boost the economy and attract more investment,” Mr. Miroshnichenko said.

A man poses for a photo.

Ambassador of Ukraine to Australia Vasily Miroshnichenko. Source: A MONKEY / Dan Himbrechts

“Unblocking funding from the EU is so much that you can’t even imagine how happy I am personally as the ambassador of Ukraine.”

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Zelenskiy applied for EU membership less than a week after Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
University of South Australia law professor Juliette McIntyre said that the request to join the EU was not only about economics and security, but also about identity.
“For Ukraine, EU membership brings two benefits,” Ms. McIntyre said.
“First, like any other member: benefits such as improved economic stability and growth in the region, as well as participation in a powerful negotiating bloc. European identity.
“Given that Ukraine is positioned and perceived as fighting for the values ​​of Europe, their candidacy can be seen as confirmation of this.”
Ms McIntyre said the benefits Ukrainians will see are mainly “easier travel in Europe and the economic benefits of being a member of the EU system.”

As Ukraine is already a member of the Council of Europe, and therefore the European Court of Human Rights, “there aren’t many additional rights in that sense,” she said. [human rights] will belong.”

What is the EU?

The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 member states across Europe.
It began after World War II in 1958 under the name of the European Economic Community, consisting of Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
The goal was and remains to prevent conflicts between European countries by strengthening trade and economic interdependence between member states.
Decisions made at the EU level include the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council (also called the Council of the European Union) and the European Commission, which represents the interests of the EU as a whole.
Ukraine: clashes between Russian and Ukrainian troops in Lisichansk and Severodonetsk

Tanks of the Ukrainian army drive along the road near Lysychansk, June 19. Credit: Justin Yau / Sipa USA

What would Ukraine’s membership mean for Russia?

Following Thursday’s vote, Ms von der Leyen tweeted: “This decision strengthens us all.”
“This strengthens Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia in the face of Russian imperialism. And this strengthens the EU,” she said, referring to the bloc’s approval of Moldova’s candidacy and another step towards Georgia.

“Because it once again shows the world that we are united and strong in the face of external threats.”

Ms McIntyre said Russian President Vladimir Putin is less concerned about EU membership than membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). But the candidacies of Ukraine and Moldova, the former Soviet republics, and the aspirations of Georgia, the homeland of Joseph Stalin, were a symbolic defeat for Russia.
“They are less concerned about it than NATO because the EU is primarily an economic organization, not a security organization,” Ms McIntyre said.
“However, since Russia’s war is based on Putin’s colonial goals, the “return” of Russian lands to Russia, Ukraine’s official candidacy has important symbolic implications.

“This is further evidence that Ukraine is not part of Russia.”

Mr Miroshnichenko said EU membership would be one step closer to overthrowing Mr Putin’s regime, which he called an “existential threat.”
“The reason he doesn’t want us to join the EU is because it is a threat to Vladimir Putin, because if life in Ukraine becomes better than life in Russia, that will be the end of Putin, that will be the end of his regime.” “, – he said. Miroshnichenko said.
“Putin is an existential threat – and that’s why he invaded Ukraine – the reason he is damaging Ukraine, killing the Ukrainian people, trying to erase our identity, deliberately targeting civilians, deporting people, raping women and children.
“He simply cannot give up Ukraine, because he believes that Ukraine should belong to [former] The Russian Empire, which he seeks to revive.”
Mr. Putin said last week that he had “nothing against” Ukraine’s accession to the EU.
“We have nothing against it. It is their sovereign decision whether to enter into economic unions or not… This is their business, the business of the Ukrainian people,” Putin said in St. Petersburg. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
However, the BBC reported that his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the Kremlin would give the application “increased attention” as the EU considers forming its own defense force.

“The military, defense and power components are being discussed,” Peskov said. “Of course, we are watching all of this closely.”

What barriers will Ukraine face?

While Ukraine’s candidacy has been hailed by analysts as a symbolic victory, it is still not a member state and has a few more steps to go before becoming one.
The main barriers are internal conflicts within the country – evaluation of candidates from member states – and economic demands.
Mr. Miroshnichenko said there was still a long way to go before Ukraine became a member state of the bloc.
“There is still a long way to go, but this is actually the beginning of the process, and we are continuing other reforms to qualify for EU membership, to qualify for the Copenhagen criteria — membership criteria for entry,” said Mr. Miroshnichenko.
The Copenhagen criteria require the state to have institutions to preserve democratic governance and human rights, have a functioning market economy, and accept EU commitments and intentions.

While these requirements may seem difficult for a country given the war, the EU’s vote to approve her candidacy could mean they are willing to ignore certain entry conditions.