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You're reading: Ivan Katchanovski: The EuroMaidan, the European Union and the future of Ukraine

Ukraine has almost no real chance to become an EU member in the foreseeable future, because the EU refuses even to recognize a potential right of Ukraine as a European country to join this organization, even when other conditions of the membership, such as democracy, would be fulfilled. EU member countries, many of which recently faced economic crisis and mass protests, would be also unwilling to adopt this new member with a population of 45 million because of reluctance to offer a large
subsidy to Ukraine, whose economy became one of the poorest in Europe.

The EU specifically refused to include in the association agreement a recognition of the potential right of Ukraine to join. The Eurobarometer surveys several years ago showed that, majorities of the residents of
Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, and the Baltic States, and Sweden. In contrast, only minorities of residents of major Western European countries, such as Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Italy, supported future EU membership of Ukraine. As a new German poll indicates, public support for EU membership of Ukraine has likely increased because of the media coverage of the mass protests, but radical change in the attitudes is unlikely. Many politicians and mass media in Ukraine and the West talk about Ukraine and Europe, as if Ukraine were not already a European country and Ukrainians were not Europeans by incorrectly equating Europe with the European Union. The 2005 TNS Sofres Survey showed that only 44%
of residents in the UK, 54% in Germany, and 63% in France considered Ukraine to be a part of Europe geographically, historically, and culturally, while 27% respondents in the UK, 39% in Germany, and 32% in
France considered Ukraine as non-European.

The EU association agreement without a potential right to join the EU would put Ukraine in the rank of such post-Soviet countries as Moldova and Georgia, which also initiated similar association agreements, and non-European countries, such as Tunisia, Israel, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, and Chile, which signed such association agreements. In the case of signing of the association agreement, Ukraine would lag in terms of European integration behind such countries as Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, and Turkey, whose right to join the EU or candidate member status was formally recognized by this organization. The free trade agreement with the EU offers a reduction and elimination of many tariffs,
but it is unlikely to provide a major boost to the Ukrainian economy, because the Ukrainian export would be limited in many cases by quotas, and other barriers, such as standards. Similarly, the association and free trade agreement does not automatically lead to a visa-free travel of Ukrainians, their right to legal work or acceptance of university degrees from Ukrainian universities in EU countries. The EU-Ukraine agreement would not bring radical changes in the level of economic development of Ukraine, rampant corruption, lack of the rule of law, or make Ukraine a liberal democracy.

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