Following trouble in Georgia and increased instability in Ukraine, the European Union is at a loss how to help and what to do. The EU does not seem to have a precise plan of action of how to move forward. Some European politicians have suggested that Georgia and Ukraine may be able to join the EU in the near future.

Georgia, Ukraine Join EU
In an ideal world, the decision-makers in Brussels would love to see Georgia and Ukraine join the European fold but this is simply not possible at this moment in time. The accession of Georgia and Ukraine to the EU would be an entirely political decision but would not, in fact, be out of synch with previous accessions. The accessions of Bulgaria and Romania  were definitely not economic-motivated and most certainly chiefly motivated by politics. In this way, the entry of Georgia and Ukraine would not be out of step with EU policy-making.

Turkish and Balkan Question
The one minor problem in the plan to integrate Georgia and Ukraine is Turkey. They have been knocking on the EU door since their formal application to join the European Community in 1987. Should the EU decide to incorporate Georgia and Ukraine it would have to, nay, it would be obliged to, allow Turkey entry also. However, this is unacceptable for many EU politicians. The European Union also have to deal with the Balkan countries who have recently been putting their Balkan houses in order to gain entry into the illustrious club that is the EU. The Union has a quandary: let them all join or reject them all. Neither of these possibilities is good.

Two-tier Europe
There is one possible way out of this predicament. The European Union has long defended accusations that it is moving towards a two-track approach with core members integrating more deeply and peripheral members being excluded. Recent decisions have shown that although superficially true this is not the case. However, in order to rid themselves of the Turkish problem and giving membership to countries for purely political reasons, the EU, some believe, will soon create what might be called European Union Association (EUA) which will combine EU current members and associated countries, like Croatia, Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and Turkey. This could be a way out for Europe…

Categories: EU

6 thoughts on “EU II

  1. I find it a little hard to see any of those scenarios happening.

    The previous round of expansion was primarily motivated by a desire to

    1) turn the Baltic into an EU pond,

    2) ensure a continued right-wing majority in the Council, Parliament and Commission by incorporating a number of populous countries with a political culture that ranges from the right wing to the extremist far-right (think Poland, in particular, but arguably Hungary as well) and

    3) consolidate Western(TM) presence in Eastern Europe (which in reality means securing American client states – think Rumsfeld’s “New Europe”).

    4) Possibly, containing the instability in former Yugoslavia may have been a motive.

    But there is a number of reasons that this experiment is unlikely to be repeated in the near future with Ukraine and Moldova:

    1) The Polish PiS government showed everyone the price of letting a countries with substantial shortcomings in their political culture. The neolibs may have gotten the wingnut government they wanted, but they didn’t count on it being quite as pig-headedly nationalist. And Ukraine and Moldova have political cultures that are not exactly what I’d call mature, even compared to Poland.

    2) Such a move would antagonise Russia needlessly. That may not bother the Brits or Sarkozy, they seem hell-bent on re-starting the Cold War anyway, but Germany has a far more cordial relationship with Russia and will probably put its foot down.

    3) In a great many countries, there is considerable resentment against the way the enlargement turned out to work in practice and thus further enlargement risks destabilising the Union.

    4) Ukraine and Moldova both have outstanding territorial disputes with Russia. Outstanding territorial disputes didn’t prevent Cyprus from joining, but then again, Russia isn’t Turkey. The Union has leverage over Turkey. Over Russia, though, not so much.

    Russia has practically stated outright that they will recognise Crimea and Transniestra if Ukraine (respectively Moldova) should bring a hostile military presence to the Russian border (read: Join NATO). That means that they will not join NATO (Germany will veto). And given the way NATO membership is unfortunately often viewed as a prerequisite for former East Bloc countries to join the EU, neither will they join the Union.

    5) There is no partisan political advantage to be had, because the previous round of enlargement locked in a permanent wingnut majority.

    Finally, the development of a two-speed EU is very much dependent on the outcome of the ongoing treaty (re-)negotiation/(re-)ratification process. It could go either way, but if Lisbon is passed in some shape or form, two-speed Europe won’t happen for a while longer. Even if it isn’t passed, two-speed Europe would be based on the Nice treaty, and neither Moldova, Ukraine or Turkey (nor most of the remaining ex-Yugoslavian countries) are anywhere near fulfilling the minimal membership criteria under Nice, nevermind under Lisbon.

    – Jake

  2. Although I don’t entirely agree with everything you wrote, it’s wonderful to read your comments, Jake. My hope is that the EU DOES incorporate these nations, even if it does seem unlikely. We can but hope.

  3. I’d be interested in knowing which parts you disagree with and why.

    As an aside, I hope that the Union will eventually come around to the realisation that it is in our best interest to extend invitations of membership to all countries who have a functioning democratic system and are not entangled in too serious international disputes.

    As opposed to the current system where politically convenient countries are invited despite manifestly not being qualified, and potentially qualified countries are turned away a priori, based on purely domestic politics in individual EU states.

    – Jake

  4. Jake, sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I didn’t say I disagree but rather I don’t entirely agree. 🙂 There is a difference. I don’t think the enlargement has anything really to do with former Yugoslavia. Anyway, thanks, once again, for your comments.
    P.S. I’ve enjoyed read the European Tribune.

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