The European Union not prepared to let Ukraine in
A country with already low-income levels and a high need for reconstruction as a result of the war would call for a major reform of EU institutions, policies, and financing processes.
Earlier this year in February, when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Brussels, leaders came together for a photo-op with Zelensky followed by a tweet from European Council President Charles Michel greeting him with: “Welcome home, welcome to the EU.”
Ukraine has been pressed and has been pressing to join the EU and to showcase that it is ready, it has been adopting new laws and implementing regulations such as media laws required for the bloc's membership.
Ukraine, alongside Moldova, received EU candidate status in June 2022, and it is due to receive the first written progress assessment from the European Commission this October. As that timeframe was drastically shorter than it would normally take to join the EU candidacy list, Ukraine is urging for the official start of negotiations by the end of this year. The session could possibly coincide (or intentionally meet) at a European Council meeting due in December.
Back in December last year, however, Annalena Baerbock, German Foreign Minister, stated that Ukraine's accession to the EU will a be long and difficult process, although the EU will support Ukraine throughout.
A few months earlier in May, France's Europe minister, Clement Beaune, reportedly said Ukraine's EU membership was "15 or 20 years" away from being realized.
"We have to be honest. If you say Ukraine is going to join the EU in six months, or a year or two, you're lying," Beaune said, speaking to a local radio station. "It's probably in 15 or 20 years, it takes a long time."
A bigger division
However, to bring in a country with an already low-income level, high population, and high need for reconstruction as a result of the war would call for a major reform of EU institutions, policies, and financing processes. This process alone would create an ever bigger division between current member states.
The EU budget is already dominated by two major elements - agricultural subsidies and development projects in poorer nations, which when combined make for around 65% of the EU’s long-term budget. Ukraine is one of the poorest nations in Europe, with a per capita income of almost one-tenth of the EU average and even less than half that of the EU’s poorest nation, Bulgaria.
Member states of the EU may even create a divide between them and the bloc since for example, cheaper Ukrainian goods are threatening farmers in Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia. With that said, Poland unilaterally blocked Ukrainian grain from entering the country - violating EU rules. As a result, the EU intervened to compromise by allowing Ukrainian produce to enter the EU, but it must go through five Eastern European nations most affected by the agricultural competition.
An IBRiS poll conducted last week for the Rzeczpospolita newspaper reveals that 47.7% of the Polish oppose Ukraine's current NATO membership while 40% support immediate membership.
The Pew Research Center poll showed on Sunday that only 11% of respondents in Hungary, 28% of those polled in Greece, and 38% of participants in Italy expressed confidence in Zelensky’s actions on the international level, while the majority have serious doubts about the Ukrainian leader.
According to a Eurobarometer study on Sunday as well, the least amount of support for Kiev was demonstrated in Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, and Slovakia.