Espreso. Global

Blocking border with Poland is start of negotiations on Ukraine's accession to EU

9 March, 2024 Saturday

Poland, under the guise of blocking the border with Ukraine, has de facto started the process of consultations with Ukraine on its future membership in the European Union

Long before the European Commission plans to hand over the negotiation framework for Ukraine's accession to the EU (tentatively at the end of March 2024), the Tusk government de facto started bilateral negotiations with the Ukrainian government on the terms of Ukraine's EU membership in January this year (as soon as it came to power). However, it does not say this directly, although it is clear from the actions and comments of the Polish government

With each passing month of the sabbath that takes place on the border with Ukraine, this fact becomes more and more obvious.

Tusk's government has linked the issue of unblocking the border with the imposition of economic restrictions on Ukraine, especially in the agricultural sector. This is a classic protectionist policy of the stronger party to protect its own national interests at the expense of the weaker party.

''This is actually a real and pragmatic policy, which may seem incomprehensible to naive Ukrainians, whose perception of bilateral relations is limited to the abstract statement that "the Poles are our best friends". Yes, but Ukrainians have to pay for it.''

The Tusk government plans to expand the list of products banned by the PiS government. The current government is simply continuing the policy started by the previous government in 2023, hiding behind "protesters" led by the Confederation. We need to understand that if PiS were in power, the same thing would happen.

And this policy is bringing good results for Tusk's government. Since January 2024, his level of support has increased by 3% and today stands at 41%, while dissatisfaction with the government is 34% (this figure coincides with the level of support for PiS). Therefore, the Tusk government will continue to pursue protectionist policies, not only in the agricultural sector but also in other areas. It is possible that even in historical politics, if the same anti-systemic forces manage to form the loyalty of 70% of Polish society to this issue.

Interestingly, unlike in Ukraine, Polish society has no contradictions or sense of hypocrisy in the actions of its own government. Indeed, they remain overwhelmingly committed to solidarity with Ukraine, which, however, does not contradict Poland's right to non-parity conditions for the protection of national interests at the expense of Ukraine's interests. This dialectic of perception is due to the fact that Poles see these two issues not as mutually exclusive, but as parallel lines that do not intersect. For Ukrainians, they have a logical connection, while for Poles it is "nothing personal, just business".

''The aggravation of bilateral Ukrainian-Polish relations and Poland's hostile steps towards Ukraine since April 2023 are part of the rough road that Ukraine will travel on its way to EU membership. And this is just the beginning. And this is only with Poland. And then there will be no less difficult negotiations with Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and even Moldova (although this is a somewhat separate story).''

The difficulty here is not only in the long-standing problems of bilateral relations, but also in the lack of clear and understandable criteria for the EU's enlargement policy. According to Article 49, "any European State which respects the values set out in Article 2 and is committed to their furtherance may apply for membership in the Union". If you look at Article 2, you will find general wording about values: "The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail”. The applicant country must also meet the requirements of the Copenhagen criteria (1993). This is essentially the same thing, but more instrumental: the sustainable functioning of institutions for the functioning of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, the functioning of a market economy and the ability to guarantee compliance with the objectives of political, economic and monetary union. In fact, that is all.

In the Treaty on European Union, you will not find any more detailed information on what can and cannot be the subject of bilateral negotiations between EU member states and an applicant country. And practice shows that such a subject can be anything from obtaining economic benefits and concessions to changing the name of the country, rewriting the history textbook and demanding that it give up its own language.

''I wrote a separate post about this problem earlier, saying that the EU enlargement policy has turned into a flea market, where everyone is selling their own "national junk" and trying to sell it to you for a sky-high price. And the only way to avoid this is to ensure that the EU member state being negotiated with is adequate.''

Practice shows that with each subsequent wave of EU enlargement, especially after the largest one in 2004, when 10 new Central European members were admitted, including the three most problematic for future negotiations with Ukraine (Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia), the conditions of bilateral negotiations become more and more stringent and inadequate. And there is no point in appealing to Brussels - the European Commission is helpless here, as it simply has no powers at this stage. The maximum it can do is to act as a mediator in the negotiation process and appeal to reason. But this logic was understandable in the early stages of the European Economic Community (1957-1992) and in the first years of the European Union (1992-2003), as it was in line with the values and principles of the founding countries. However, the new EU members of the so-called "new Europe" have rewritten the rules over the past 20 years.

Therefore, we should fasten our seat belts and prepare for constant turbulence in relations with Ukraine's neighbours on its western borders.It will be rough. It is difficult to say how much Ukraine will have to compromise and give in today. But the price for membership will be high. The idea of the "United States of Europe" as envisioned by Jean Monet, Robert Schumann, Alcide De Gasperi and Altiero Spinelli remained in the 1950s. Today is the 2020s, and the 2030s are likely to be no less challenging.

The European Union that Ukraine plans to join in the early 2030s will be far from what it was in 2013, when Ukrainians finally made their civilisational choice on the Maidan.


About the author. Taras Rad, election observation coordinator at the Civil Network OPORA.

The editors don't always share the opinions expressed by the authors of the blogs.

Read also:
  • News
2024, Friday
12 April
Russian invaders hold captive over 1,000 residents of occupied Zaporizhzhia region
Russia claims Ukrainian drone crashes into Belgorod administrative building
UK considers sending prototypes of DragonFire laser weapons to Ukraine — Shapps
Kh-69 missile deemed more dangerous than Kinzhal used in Trypilska TPP strike: explained by military expert
Attack of the Drones: All about Ukrainian UAV strikes on Russian airfields, significance and consequences
Russian media report drone attack on Novoshakhtinsk refinery, Defense Ministry reports on air defense operations
German Ambassador to Ukraine visits Zaporizhzhia
Russian missile attack on Odesa region on April 10: death toll rises to 6
NATO's limited humanitarian contingent in Ukraine is realistic
UN announces "existential threat" to Ukraine
Russian army tries to break through to Kurakhove — Ukrainian officer on Avdiivka sector
Russia bolsters arsenal for striking Ukrainian targets. Serhiy Zgurets's column
Russia loses air defense system, 9 tanks and 840 soldiers per day - General Staff
"Slow but steady gains": Russia is taking advantage of Ukraine's air defense deficiencies — ISW
Estonia proposes to recognize Moscow Patriarchate as terrorist organization
Death toll from Russian ballistic missile attack on Mykolaiv on April 11 rises
Russia sends troops, navy, aviation, air defense from Far East to war against Ukraine - Ukraine’s Intelligence
2024, Thursday
11 April
Victorious news of 778th day of war: Russian flag follows Russian warship in Pervomaiske, additional payments for the military at contact line
Frontline report: 53 combat clashes, majority near Bakhmut and Novopavlivka
Over 2,605 participants of “special military operation” convicted in Russia since February 2022
Lithuania provides Ukraine with new aid package
Ukraine is running out of missiles for Iris-T, Patriot air defense systems — Bild journalist
Defense Express explains what Russian missiles Ukrainian air defense cannot shoot down
Kharkiv region announces evacuation of families with children from 47 frontline settlements
Ukraine's Kuleba invites partners, who decide on air defense supply, to spend night in Kharkiv
Russia launches air strike on Sumy thermal power plant: details
Russian attack on Kharkiv destroys transformer substation and damages TPP
“Russian flag in Pervomaiske followed Russian warship": officer of 59th Brigade Tsehotskyi 
American people, Congress support aid for Ukraine - former US State Department spokesman Price
Kurganmashzavod is the only manufacturer of infantry fighting vehicles in Russia
Flood engulfs Kurgan with Russia's only IFV manufacturer that will be underwater: official map
Sandu on readiness for war with Russia: "We believe in Ukraine's victory and will continue to support it"
MEPs refuse discharge of EU Council budget until Ukraine receives 7 more Patriot systems
Ukrainian parliament adopts draft law on mobilization
Zelenskyy discusses defense cooperation with Czech and Romanian presidents at Three Seas Summit
Pentagon discloses $23 million SpaceX contract for Starlink in Ukraine
Ukraine will have to surrender Kharkiv in coming weeks: foreign fakes for April 11
Russia doesn't need casus belli, it has shown everything it is capable of
Armtrac 400 mechanized demining machine
Armored vehicles demine Kharkiv region
Russia isn't going to stop at Ukraine, chronically threatens world - NATO Commander Europe Cavoli
West reacts weakly to Russian attacks on Ukraine: political scientist explains why
More news