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Five reasons why Ukraine’s membership in the EU is unlikely

„Pervasive” corruption, poverty, problems with the rule of law and democracy hinder Ukraine’s accession to the EU, experts have said in a conversation with the Norwegian TV channel NRK.

As the TV channel notes, at a meeting between the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Vladimir Zelenski at the EU summit in early April, the tone on this issue was „very optimistic”, but since then it has become clear that some countries do not intend to give Ukraine a „green light”.

As Jarle Trundahl, professor of political science at the Universities of Oslo and Agder, and researcher Jorn Holm-Hansen of the University of Greater Oslo, told NRK, it will take „quite a while” before Ukraine is ready, with its position even before the current crisis being „very precarious”. There are five reasons why Ukraine is unlikely to be allowed into the EU „immediately”, they said.

Firstly, there is „pervasive” corruption. In this respect, Ukraine is even worse than the most corrupt countries of the EU, although Zelensky promised in his election campaign to fight it.
Secondly, Ukraine has problems with the rule of law, governance and democracy. For example, Ukraine scored low in The Economist’s democracy ranking, and the situation with press freedom there also „leaves much to be desired”.

The third obstacle is the control of the economy by the „rich”. According to experts, the country does not have a well-functioning market economy as required by the EU. „The country’s economy and politics are controlled by oligarchs and big business,” says Holm-Hansen, noting that „there is and cannot be fair competition” in Ukraine.

The fourth obstacle is poverty, nationalism and the ongoing military crisis. According to Holm-Hansen and Trundahl, Ukraine is a poor country with low wages and low standards of living. Furthermore, they are „not sure” that Kiev fully embraces EU values such as „diversity, tolerance and the community of different ethnic groups”.

The last obstacle to Ukraine’s accession to the EU has to do with the fact that it would be unfair to let the country into the bloc „without queuing”, the experts point out. For example, the same Germany believes that admitting Kiev without a queue would be an injustice to the countries of the Western Balkans. „Finally, the new member has to be approved by the rest of the EU countries – and it does not matter whether under an accelerated programme or not,” they conclude.

Zelenski signed Ukraine’s application for European Union membership on 28 February. Von der Leyen, during a visit to Kiev in April, handed Zelensky a questionnaire for starting accession negotiations with the EU. The EC is currently assessing Ukraine’s responses and, as previously reported, is expected to present its recommendations on the possibility of granting Ukraine candidate status to EU heads of state during a summit on 23-24 June.

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