LA VÉRIF - L'adhésion de l'Ukraine à l'Union européenne peut-elle être accélérée?

LA VÉRIF – L’adhésion de l’Ukraine à l’Union européenne peut-elle être accélérée?

Ukraine does not hide its desire to join the European Union. Emmanuel Macron assures that such an adhesion takes years or even decades. What is it exactly?

This is a pressing request from Ukraine: to be part of the European family. A wish exacerbated since the beginning of the war started by its Russian neighbor. But at the beginning of the week, Emmanuel Macron dashed the hopes of a rapid integration of Ukraine into the European Union. On the occasion of Europe Day, the French Head of State, traveling to Strasbourg, spoke of Ukraine’s desire to join the European Union. According to him, this process could take years or even decades.

The Ukrainian authorities hope for the fastest possible integration into the EU. This is what the Ukrainian President keeps saying. Volodymyr Zelensky engaged the maximum speed from the start of the Russian offensive. Four days later, he signed an application to join the European Union. Then, he filled in the official files very quickly, to obtain candidate status.

The European Commission intends to give its opinion in June. It is studying at full speed the candidacy submitted by Ukraine. But this will only be the beginning of a long road towards Ukraine’s eventual integration into the European Union.

• Yes, the process of entering the EU is long

Is it true that the process of integration into the Union takes time… years or even decades, as Emmanuel Macron says?

According to Christian Lequesne, professor at Sciences Po and specialist in Europe, it will take “several years of course. Several decades? We don’t know. Joining the European Union is not something that the ‘we can pay in 24 hours or in 3 months’.

Let’s look at the time that elapses between the time a country applies for membership and the time it actually joins the European Union. For Croatia, the last state to join the union, it took 10 years.

Before her, for Romania and Bulgaria, the process took 12 years. It’s 10 years for Hungary and Poland.

“Until now, it has always taken a minimum of 3 years between the moment a country is told ‘we accept your application’ and the moment it returns. Some countries have been candidates for more than 10 years and are still not still back”, judge Sylvain Kahn, associate professor of history at Sciences Po, specialist in the European Union.

This is the case of Montenegro, a neighboring country of Croatia. He applied for membership in 2008, 14 years ago, but the country is still not a member of the European Union.

Another example: Turkey submitted its candidacy in 1987. 35 years ago. And the country is still not part of the European Union.

• Precise criteria for entering the EU

If this process takes so long, it’s because you have to meet strict criteria. The life of the candidate country must be in conformity with the values ​​and the political and economic ways of life of the European Union. This presupposes complex negotiations on many subjects.

Institutions must be stable. The country must respect democracy, the rule of law, human rights, respect and protect minorities. We also need a functioning market economy, that is to say an economy in which there is no corruption. And then you have to accept the community acquis, that is to say adapt your legislation “economically, socially and environmentally to new standards”, explains Christian Lequesne, professor at Sciences Po.

“One of the conditions for entering the European Union is to accept this ‘acquis communautaire’, that is to say everything that already exists. Review all the laws to make them compatible with what is is already done in the European Union […] for the countries of central Europe, which returned in the early 2000s, it was about 300,000 pages that had to be changed”, adds the specialist in Europe.

Fulfilling these criteria takes time for the candidate countries. And all the more so for a country at war. “In general, we integrate countries at peace, which have time to adapt, to make reforms… A country in a war economy is in a state that does not allow it to make all these efforts”, estimates Sylvain Kahn, associate professor of history at Sciences Po.

• An accelerated procedure for Ukraine? A first

Therefore, would it be possible to put in place, in view of the specific situation of Ukraine, an accelerated procedure for integration into the EU, as the Ukrainian President would like?

All the experts we interviewed answered ‘no’.

“For the moment, the accelerated procedure does not exist. If we are to believe the positions taken by the 27, it is very unlikely that we will invent one for Ukraine”, says Sylvain Kahn.

Emmanuel Macron made a proposal this week. While waiting for Ukraine to join the European Union, the president suggests that it be part of a European political community. It would be a kind of “waiting room”, before joining the European Union, a first political entry into the European family.

It is a “polite way of saying, with empathy to the Ukrainians: your economy is still very corrupt, with many oligarchs, a standard of living which represents 30% of the average standard of living in the EU… In short, before you cannot be a member of the European Union, there are a lot of efforts to be made. (…) This is why Emmanuel Macron imagines an alternative proposal”, believes the specialist of the European Union Sylvain Kahn.

• A “reserved” place for Ukraine? No legal value

But this proposal to integrate a sort of antechamber to the European Union does not fully satisfy the Ukrainians… President Zelensky is asking for more.

“We can’t stay in this constant uncertainty. It’s like a table where the whole family is invited but you haven’t been given a chair,” the Ukrainian president said in colorful language this week.

In the process, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister asked that a place be reserved for Ukraine within the Union.

“We hear very often that Ukraine belongs to the European family, and now it is very important for us to reserve this place for Ukraine even if the negotiations must last a long time,” he said on television. German.

Reserving a place for Ukraine within the Union has no legal or legal value. It is a political statement. But that has its importance for the Ukrainians. This would be a strong message sent to Russia.

“If Russia understands that Europe does not pursue an ambiguous and mysterious policy regarding Ukraine’s prospects of becoming a member of the European Union, it will reject efforts to return Ukraine (to Russia). Because one of the reasons why the war started is Putin’s conviction that Europe does not need Ukraine”, considers the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Celine Pitelet with Sofiane Aklouf

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