November, 2005 forty five students at the East Ukrainian National
University in Lugansk, Ukraine submitted papers on whether or
not Ukraine should enter the European Union. The winning paper
in the 2005 Center for Perpetual Diversity Scholarship program
is presented here. The paper has been edited for clarity.
WHY SHOULD UKRAINE STAY
OUT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
On the eve of the December Summit regarding the EU integration
policy the Ukrainian authorities have proclaimed that membership
in the European Union is a national priority. The first steps
on the path toward the European community were not strewn with
petals from Brussels roses. The initial euphoria disappeared
with increased understanding of all the uncomfortable realities
of cooperation with the EU.
Acceptance of the plan entitled "On the way to EU"
is the starting point. In its current form this document presumes
cooperation in a number of areas, but doesn't reveal the prospects
of Ukrainian membership. This Plan is absolutely a positive
moment for Ukraine and it will show serious intentions and open
the doors for strengthened ties to the EU. However the details
of the process raise doubts.
First, there are no clear points. In spite of having a detailed
character, the document is colored with a number of non-specific
Second is the temporary imbalance it will cause. The plan calls
for the completion of more than 360 measures. In the first half
of the year about one sixth of them were completed and other
measures are planned for the second half of the year. The rate
of completion does not give us confidence. At the end of the
year parliamentary elections, which promise to be interesting,
could be fatal to the entire process.
Thirdly, there is the deficiency of resources. The Plan could
be considered as a global business-project requiring an investment
of funds from external sources. Ukraine does not have enough
money to even adapt the national legislation of Ukraine to the
norms of the EU.
Fourthly is the fact that our government can not manage to get
public support of EU integration. When Ukrainian citizens were
asked "can integration into the EU unit all regions of
Ukraine?" 36 % said yes and 39 % said no. A similar majority
do not consider Ukraine to be a European state in the social
and economic sense. European standards in political and cultural
spheres are hardly observed in Ukraine. The principles of equality
and rights for citizens are very important and necessary. A
confirmation of this necessity can be seen by studying the situation
in France. Since the beginning of November France suffers from
nightly violence initiated by unemployed immigrants some of
which are illegally in the country. Every morning the French
count their losses: burnt automobiles and buses, ruined cars,
shops and destroyed churches. Certainly this problem demands
that the French government make urgent decisions in social politics.
Today, they offer some initiatives to improve the living conditions,
to provide jobs and education for impoverished citizens. However
it is necessary to take into account that the majority of these
people do not wish to work, or study and rearrange their lives
in general. The nightly performances with fire have become for
them a form of entertainment and a method to attract authorities'
attention. During the last forty years millions of these people
have taken advantage of the right to get French citizenship.
They have a French passport but only a few of them have adopted
the French culture and life style.
The fifth problem is the lack of the experts on European laws,
economy, and finance. Ukrainian Universities don't train such
experts. In spite of the fact that during the last several years
some leading Ukrainian schools have offered classes in European
law, it is not yet a program which a student can specialize
in. A friend of mine has a diploma from a school in Kiev, where
he studied the EU Law. He says that during his 5 years in the
Kiev institute of international relations the whole program
of "European Law" is taught for only two weeks! My
friend and ten other Ukrainians who have such a diploma work
in private industry rather than in the service of the Ukrainian
Ukrainians don't know much about the processes occurring in
the European Union and about the lives of their neighbors. It
is very useful to study the experience of Poland joining the
EU in May of 2004. Discussion of Polish integration and its
consequences for the political, public and economic aspects
of life will deepen the knowledge of what to expect from membership
in the European Union.
The first steps on the difficult and long way to European integration
are not so successful. There is no alternative to obvious things;
the achievement of European standards of democracy, law and
a decent standard of living are important. It is not worth storming
Brussels with demands to recognize Ukraine as a European state.
The way to the European Union should be accompanied by concrete
results in reforming the economy and social system of the country.
When we achieve this it will be time to remind the EU that Ukraine
is situated in Europe not only geographically.
We should listen to the advice of Czech president Vasclava Klausa:
"Before knocking at the door of EU, it is necessary to
know what to expect."