Most of the work regarding Ukraine’s accession to the EU is still to be done, reveals one of Ukraine’s leading European integration experts, European Pravda editor-in-chief Sergiy Sydorenko.
The European Commission has acknowledged Ukraine’s accomplishments in reforming since the summer of 2022. But were these substantial reforms, or mostly bureaucratic?
I strongly oppose the narrative that there is a difference between “true” and “paper-based” reforms. Most reforms are actually done in the spheres of legislative acts, and procedural changes, among others. In terms of reforms which can transform the country, often there is no element that is really tangible [to the people at large].
If you take into account the situation in Ukraine, in a year’s time a lot has been done. Even EU bureaucrats who aren’t supportive of Ukraine have acknowledged this. But if we really want to join the EU, we are still doing too little too slowly. The amount of work to be done is about ten times larger than for us to become an associate member of the EU.
Which key challenges do you see?
If you are waiting for the words “anti-corruption” from me, I won’t say them. I think there will be harder challenges, but we can’t even imagine them now. For example, environmental reforms are usually really hard to implement. But maybe in Ukraine things will happen differently.
Ukrainian politicians say it’s possible to end the EU accession talks in about two years. Is there any other country which has done such a large amount of work this fast?
I don’t think two years and even four years are realistic. But comparing Ukraine to other countries is a trap: The EU has changed since its most recent substantial enlargement. It’s more loyal and faster in some things, such as accepting new members which are in its security interests. This is the situation now, though. If in France, for example, Marine Le Pen will become President instead of Emmanuel Macron, the story will change.