What would be the pros and cons from the EU's perspective?

  • This is an actual question that many are asking themselves but probably everyone will answer somewhat differently. Also, good answers would probably fill books. So, please do not be disappointed if answers here will only be comparably short or a bit opinionated. As for if it is in the interest, leading EU politicians said lately that they support the candidacy of Ukraine, that would suggest that the pros outweigh the cons somehow for many. Jun 20, 2022 at 6:07
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    Note that the current talks are about Ukraine becoming a candidate for EU membership, a status countries can have for years or even decades and that is in no way guaranteed to lead to eventual membership.
    – quarague
    Jun 20, 2022 at 7:08
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    Doesn't really matter because it's not happening. That's why it's so difficult to think through actual consequences. For example, you could look at the demographics and standard of living (quite apart from the damage done by the war) and write the huge burden to the EU budget and/or the end of the structural funds as we know them as a con. But nobody is paying that anytime soon, not really, so is it pro or a con for anybody?
    – Relaxed
    Jul 3, 2022 at 20:13
  • Also, what is to the benefit of the EU as an institution or to individual EU figures may not coincide with benefits to the EU's population or economy.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 7, 2023 at 12:57

4 Answers 4


Depends on the internal state of Ukraine and the EU, if and when it joins.

  • I would say that it is not in the interest of the EU to let anyone join until the internal decisionmaking processes are reformed. 27 veto powers are too many, 28 would be worse. (The veto of countries like Hungary is kept in check by their interest in ongoing subsidies, but the bargaining process is tedious. One cannot explicitly link every decision to the Multiannual Financial Framework.)
  • Ukraine would have to introduce rule-of-law and anti-corruption measures and keep them going long enough that they appear institutionally established. The EU was 'burned' in this regard with other new members, where the reforms did not stick.
  • The economy of Ukraine would have to be stable enough so that their industry does not get disrupted by membership, look back at the de-industrialization of the former GDR after the German Reunification.

If and when that is done, the big pro would be to have another large democracy in the block, thereby increasing the internal market, the size of the EU economy, and the international 'bargaining power' of the EU as a whole.

If Ukraine wants to share European values, and not just Structural Cohesion Funds and Freedom of Movement for their citizens, that's in the fundamental interest of the EU.

The disadvantage, at least for some members, would be to add another net recipient of EU funds. Places like Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia or Romania might flip from being net recipients to net contributors. Germany, France, and Italy might have to pay even more. (Also smaller countries, which contribute more per capita, like the Netherlands or Sweden.) Still a long-term benefit for the EU, look where Italy or Portugal stood when they joined, but the immediate effect would redistribute money away from current recipients.

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    Also Ukraine has announced that they want to recapture the currently occupied regions (which is obviously their right) which means they will have a population of armed hostile pro-russian insurrectionists they either need to oppress, deport or massacre. As a citizen of a EU country I would be interested to learn which is it because they are admitted to the EU. Jun 20, 2022 at 14:03
  • @EikePierstorff, note the Russian minority in the Baltics. Of course that was without the war, which will change things. Or the Brits vs. Irish, half a century ago.
    – o.m.
    Jun 20, 2022 at 15:30
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    I have a Russian minority in my neighbourhood, but then they are not planning to turn the south of Berlin into a Russian province. Being Russian is not the issue here, waging war against the state in which they live is. Jun 20, 2022 at 18:32
  • Note that it is not in the interest of any member state to cease the veto in the foreign policy of the EU. Moreover, abolishing the veto can again be vetoed by anyone, for example by Hungary. Jun 22, 2022 at 11:52
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    @AdamGyenge, by itself, giving up a veto is stupid. But it is in the interest of many members of the EU to have a functioning EU, and enlightened self-interest comes into play. That was what I mentioned with the Multiannual Financial Framework, it isn't in Hungary's interest to make that go away. Compare the UK, a net payer, which decided to try a Brexit.
    – o.m.
    Jun 22, 2022 at 15:01

The country seems full of life. They are competitive in the world market with their crop production - up to a degree the world cannot do without them, smelt metal for the world and they were producing Satan nuclear rockets that Russia still struggles to replace and tanks for export. Antonov airplanes and KrAZ trucks are exported to many countries. It used to be a preferred source of migrant workers for places like Poland, making there 98% of the seasonal work permits. They used to spend on education bigger part of GDP than EU, over many years. Proportion of young adults who attained at least secondary education is also higher.

Ukraine may have better economic potential than some Eastern Europe countries in the long run, and will not be just a sinkhole for donations. Russia probably also understands this. Hence looks like membership would make sense in the long run.

Surely there are many requirements to implement democracy and fight corruption but the war may actually help against at least corruption, by making the society very intolerant to it. Who is fighting to death, really hates somebody stealing his bullets.


By joining the EU, Ukraine's conflict with Russia will become a direct conflict between Russia and the EU. Thus, it's questionable if it's in the EU's interest to get involved in a conflict that can lead to World War 3. The EU would also need to put a lot of money in a country destroyed by war.

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    Being realistic, it's unlikely that Ukraine will join the EU before the war ends because joining the EU can take decades. That is, unless they plan to abort the underwriting process, which will obviously look bad. E.g. look at countries like Turkey.
    – uberhaxed
    Jun 20, 2022 at 17:25
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    @uberhaxed But even if the war end, it will turn into forozen conflict.
    – convert
    Jun 24, 2022 at 10:55

Things that the answer by o.m. is missing is a reference to the actual political situation and a reference to common values of the EU and Ukraine.

There is a war between Ukraine and Russian and Ukraine is definitely more of a democracy than Russia. Most leaders of the EU have emphasized their support for Ukraine. One way to support Ukraine long-term would be a defensive alliance and apart from NATO (which Russia seems to have big problems with), EU also contains a common defense clause. One way to ensure security of Ukraine long term might therefore be to take Ukraine in as a member of the EU but leave it out of NATO at the same time. Membership in the EU surely would also have overall economic benefits as well with common standards and fewer barriers.

The other is values. Aims of EU are to uphold freedom, democracy and peace in Europe. If Ukraine shares these goals and it largely seems to be so, then it would be fully within the aim of the EU to take in Ukraine. Sure, democracy, independence of justice or fighting corruption in Ukraine could be better, but one could see a lot of shared values between EU and Ukraine not only at the moment but already for many years and it's only a candidacy at the moment, which is no guarantee for a membership.

As an addition, some prominent voices from the EU side that seem to support a candidacy of Ukraine (just in case, somebody doubts that): EU President Ursula von der Leyen backs Ukraine bid to join bloc, Scholz, Macron and Draghi Boost Ukraine’s EU Membership Bid.

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    "Ukraine is definitely more of a democracy" This is a strange definition of democracy, country where many opposition parties are forbiden and some of their leaders are inpreasoned, can´t be called democracy. And I am not tallking about limitations of rights of ethnic and religion minorities.
    – convert
    Jun 20, 2022 at 11:09
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    For a democracy that has to defend itself in a war against an aggressor that threatens its very existence, it’s not unusual to ban political parties that overtly collaborate with the enemy. And this is still infinitely better than in Russia, where the only democratic choice is between supporting Putin, and supporting Putin. Jun 20, 2022 at 12:23
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    @EmilJeřábek When HALF of your parties are your enemy, it's not really "your" country. Jun 20, 2022 at 12:55
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    @OlegV.Volkov No, it’s not half of the parties, not even close. Only one of the banned parties won representation in the parliament, with <10% of the seats. The rest are fringe parties with no support worth speaking of. Jun 20, 2022 at 14:41
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    @EmilJeřábek : the banning of political parties, imprisoning of opposition leaders, and stripping minorities of their rights began before 2022. Even more so, the latter one (oppression of minorities) is one of the major reasons cited by the Russians as a justification for their invasion.
    – vsz
    Jun 20, 2022 at 14:56

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