Advised Rhetoric 

President Zelenskyy should continue the course of integration into the European Union laid down by the Constitution. Yet both Ukraine and the EU need to get prepared for the accession. Ukraine is continuing the reforms – the economic and political, laid down by the previous team. However, the strategy at the moment is not so much the accession to the EU as the implementation of European norms, standards, and human rights, the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.

In order to be ready to transfer many of the powers of Ukraine in certain spheres to the EU in the accession process, the presidential team needs to audit them and to align them with the European standards in order to clearly divide competences between the EU institutions and the Ukrainian authorities. Ukraine is a sovereign independent state, and its national interests – the interests of the people – are a factor that will determine whether it will make the final step. This is a work for 5-7 years for our society – for practical transformation and mental preparations.


The EU is in a state of crisis in view of Brexit, the distribution of refugees, the flow of migrants, the terrorist threat, and the coming to power of populists. Ukraine’s accession to the EU is not relevant to the EU itself; on the other hand, the EU is now preparing for the accession of the Balkans. Ukraine is an important trading partner and an EU’s ally. EU countries respect international law and sanction regimes against Russia, so instead of Russia they trade with Ukraine, and this should continue. The more Ukraine implements European norms and standards, the more trade will grow – the more living standards in Ukraine will rise.

As for the accession, referendums are foreseen in many EU countries: people there will also say yes or no to Ukraine’s accession. Ukraine needs to carry out preparatory work to improve the image of Ukraine in Europe in terms of reforms, tourism, education exchange programs- among those who will vote in these referendums.

Why Ukraine is not ready to join now?

  1. Ukraine must fulfill the Copenhagen criteria – to prove that it has the minimum level of readiness for accession: to become a truly law-governed state with an effective judicial system, to realize the market economy, and to achieve the full implementation of the acquis communautaire (the whole EU law). Achieving these criteria will significantly boost Ukrainian peoples’ living standards, dignity, and life expectancy.
  2. The adoption of the laws of Ukraine will often depend on the will of the EU. The Ukrainian parliament must be mature enough to quickly transform EU legal acts into domestic law whenever such a need arises. Ukraine must be prepared to comply with EU law, otherwise, it will be subject to the fines on the decision of the EU Court, and the citizens of all member states will be able to sue Ukraine before this court. As president V. Zelenskyy should eradicate/outlaw piano voting as a sign of his European direction!

Why Ukraine will not lose its sovereignty in the event of accession?

  1. Ukraine’s sovereignty will strengthen: EU-membership will strengthen its ability to withstand global problems (ecology, technology, health, a proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, etc.) thanks to the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy, Permanent Structured Cooperation and EU solidarity with members under threat.
  2. Ukraine still has main competence (Kompetenz-Kompetenz), and will have the veto power in the EU bodies where unanimity is required.

by Marta Barandiy, Ph.D., LL.M. Eur. 

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