What's the earliest Ukraine could realistically join the EU?
The Hundred #17: June 28, 2022
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“Ukrainians must view joining the EU as a generational project. Even leaving aside the tragic fact that it is under invasion, joining the EU has become harder, lengthier, and more mired with obstacles: Harder because standards are getting higher – like on the environment. Lengthier because the EU itself is expanding its policy competences – for example, it wants to do more on health. Mired with obstacles because aspiring countries face a host of unresolved statehood and conflict-related problems and the EU has become reticent and has blocked existing candidates’ progress, setting a bad precedent for those who now join the queue.”
“The path to EU membership is always long and arduous because any would-be member has to apply all 100,000-plus pages of EU rules and regulations for the internal market, ranging from food safety to environmental protection. However, Ukraine has two advantages. First, its administration has already spent several years aligning its legislation with EU norms and standards, so that in some areas it’s ahead of countries that are further ahead with candidate status. Second, the EU might be willing to start sectoral integration, for example on energy, before full membership, which could take more than a decade to achieve.”
“Ukraine will join the EU at the earliest on 1 January 2035, but this is contingent on developments within Ukraine and the evolution of the war. EU policy and processes on enlargement will be assessed and changes made. Accession may be broken down into different building blocks that can be cleared when conditions are met. This may mean, for example, that Ukrainians have access to free movement before final accession. The EU will have to fully support candidate states to prepare them for membership. Membership is an opportunity, but the EU is a tough club to join.”
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Will join EU in 2035...yes could be a realistic date.