Archive for August 22nd, 2014


Tick box Europeanisation

August 22, 2014

Some days ago whilst in Lithuania, the Speaker of the RADA, Olexandr Turchynov made several very ambitious statements relating to the implementation of all Association Agreement requirements within 5 years and thus Ukraine being ready for accession to the European Union.

It would appear Mr Turchynov wants all to believe Europeanisation and EU accession comes merely by tick box governmental legislation and that the fulfillment of the Association Agreement is sufficient for EU accession.  He must surely know this is not the case – as it is not the case.

EU accession requires the opening, negotiation and closing of the 31 chapters of the Aquis Communautaire – something significantly more ambitious than the Association Agreement.  There is no circumvention.

At best, full and wholehearted compliance with the Association Agreement that Ukraine is signatory to (but has still not ratified) would get the nation about 80% of the way to meeting such requirements.  Discounting Turkey as a statistically anomaly, it takes an average of 7 years for Aquis Communataire completion from application under Article 49 of the Treaty of The European Union.

It is also an expensive process – both for the applicant and for the European Union.  Accession needs therefore to be budgeted for, particularly with a nation the geographical size and with the demographics of Ukraine.  EU budgetary cycles work over a 7 year period.  Ergo, should Ukraine apply under Article 49 at the beginning of any 7 year period, there will be no funds to facilitate accession until the following 7 year period – or perhaps the one after that, even if Member States have no issues with Ukrainian accession and thus do not drag out the Aquis Communautaire process.  So complicated and fraught with argument is this EU budgetary process, that negotiations for any 7 year period begin 2 years prior to its commencement.

Notwithstanding the tick box requirements of an EU-worthy legislative act for this or that, such legislation needs to be implemented and seen to be working.  Thus far in the history of Ukrainian independence, regardless of whether legislation meets the parameters of EU acceptability or not – and it generally hasn’t – Ukraine fails entirely when it comes to implementation.  One of the greatest forms of assistance the EU could provide Ukraine with is implementation and monitoring teams when it comes to laws that are passed that are critical to the Europeanisation of Ukraine.  A reliance on civil society and diplomatic missions to repeatedly state implementation is failing is only of so much use when genuine Europeanisation is the goal – something far beyond simply crafting legislation and ticking a box stating “Done” is required.  Reforming legislation is not the same as reforming the way it is applied.

The comments relating to NATO are also somewhat more than ambitious.

During his electoral campaign, President Poroshenko stated NATO would only be considered when 70% or more of the population were in favour.  Even now, with a war raging in eastern Ukraine, public opinion is not at 70%.

Mr Turchynov is surely aware that Ukrainian society is not the RADA.  51% – or a slim majority of the population – is not going to be enough for sustained acceptance by Ukrainian society of NATO membership.  That President Poroshenko stated 70% – the magical public opinion figure generally touted in political science regarding the irreversibility of democracy as the only form of governance – is no accident.  70% is sufficiently robust to insure no significant reversal in public opinion.

There is also the issue that NATO members need to agree any Ukrainian application to join – which clearly they will not.  There are more than sufficient Kremlin Trojan Horses and weak NATO members who would bow to Kremlin coercion in scuppering any such Ukrainian bid.

It would also raise the question, if NATO accession is the plan, why is it that a team of Austrian “neutrality” experts have been invited to Kyiv?

Now it may be – or not – that Ukraine will fully and wholeheartedly meet all requirements of the Association Agreement with the EU 5 years from now.  Much rejoicing if so.  It does not, however, mean that Ukraine is then able to join the EU as Mr Turchynov infers.  And NATO is simply off the table within such a time frame – though the halfway house of “deepened cooperation” seems likely.

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