A new European initiative for Ukraine

July 14, 2022

In June 2022, Stefan Batory Foundation and the Warsaw Office of the European Council on Foreign Relations released a policy brief entitled "Partnership for enlargement: a new way to integrate Ukraine and the EU’s eastern neighbourhood". Its authors are Piotr Buras, director of the Warsaw Office of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), and Kai-Olaf Lang, an analyst at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP).

The English version of the document is available at https://www.batory.org.pl/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/Partnership-for-Enlargement-A-new-way-to-integrate-Ukraine-and-the-EUs-eastern-neighbourhood.pdf

According to the authors, the EU should review the approaches to its enlargement policy and introduce a new ambitious initiative - "Partnership for Enlargement", which will involve deepening cooperation between Brussels and the candidate countries in the economic, energy and security sectors. This Polish-German initiative aroused much interest. Stefan Batory Foundation initiated an expert discussion of this paper, in which M. Pashkov, co-director of foreign policy and international security programmes of the Razumkov Centre, took part. We publish his comment below.

Ukraine's path to the EU: advantages and features of the new Polish-German initiative

The document "Partnership for enlargement: a new way to integrate Ukraine and the EU’s eastern neighbourhood" authored by P. Buras and K. Lang aims to rethink and update the European neighbourhood and enlargement policy in the new geopolitical situation. This Polish-German initiative is a testimony of solidarity and support for Ukraine, an attempt to create more favourable conditions for its further European integration.

The authors propose an innovative strategic model — "Partnership for expansion" (hereinafter — PFE), which has three basic components: reconstruction and a common market; energy security and green transformation; security and political cooperation.

It is worth noting that various options for "partial" or "intermediate" integration of Ukraine into the EU have appeared in the political discourse. One should also mention the idea of ​​the French President E. Macron to create a "European political community", which, in his opinion, aims to "stabilise the neighbourhood" of the EU and intensify cooperation with non-member countries "on issues of defence, geopolitics, energy, infrastructure, people’s relocation projects". So, it makes sense to assess to what extent E. Macron's idea and the proposed Polish-German initiative coincide — are they complementary or competing projects?

It is important that, as the authors point out, the PFE is not an alternative to expansion and is intended to give a new impetus to the European integration of a group of countries seeking to join the EU and "anchor aspiring countries more firmly within the European community." This cooperation structure, as the document emphasises, "would be qualitatively new and would bring concrete benefits in the short term."

This point is important for Ukraine, which already has the candidate status, counting on further intensification of the European integration process, a new quality of relations with Brussels, and practical results. It is clear that support and solidarity of the EU, assistance in the implementation of internal reforms are extremely important in wartime. Currently, implementation of the seven recommendations of the European Commission, which accompanied the positive decision regarding the candidate status for Ukraine, is the tactical priority for Kyiv. According to the Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine O. Stefanishyna, this package of recommendations is to be fully implemented by the end of 2022. (Implementation of most of them requires administrative, legal and organisational measures backed with the political will. Therefore, the head of state has a carte blanche for decisive actions in view of the high level of public trust, support of all branches of government and the broad solidarity of the world community).

  1. Buras and K. Lang rightly express sheer scepticism about the benefits of the candidate status, stressing that "having EU candidate status today has almost no practical significance," and the process of joining the EU is long and overly bureaucratic.

In this context, the PFE initiative is productive, because it aims to ensure specific conditions and mechanisms for the in-depth integration of the applicant countries into the common European market, the EU energy system and the political and security space of the European Union (at the same time, it should be noted that in this triad, security is the top priority for Ukraine).

It should be admitted that despite all the importance of the Balkan region, Moldova and Georgia for the European Union, it is the Ukrainian direction that has obvious priority, weight and special significance in the current realities, first of all, in view of the political and security factors.

Ukraine, bearing the brunt of Russia's entire military might, has been protecting the EU's eastern flank from the Kremlin's continental expansion for a long time, destroying Putin's plan to reshape the European political and security space. In fact, not only the fate of the Ukrainian statehood but also the future existence of the European Union, at least in its current form, depend on the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

At the same time, integration in the EU is a basic worldview imperative, a top political priority, which is shared and supported by all branches of Ukraine’s government, influential political forces, public organisations and society. Almost 90% of Ukrainians support the EU membership, equating their own and the country's future with joining the European community.

Here lies the main importance of Ukraine’s European integration and the key difference from the other candidates for joining the EU. Therefore, the EU enlargement policy must be clearly differentiated, adapted to modern security challenges and threats.

The overall idea of ​​the PFE initiative is to provide a concrete dimension to the process of anchoring countries seeking to join the EU in the "European family". This idea deserves attention and all-round support. The document released by the Stefan Batory Foundation covers various areas and lines of the complex relations of the EU with the candidate countries, outlines a set of relevant measures for their improvement. Of course, this topical and complex subject requires comprehensive expert analysis and all-round discussion by the concerned parties.

Mykhailo Pashkov

Co-Director, Foreign Relations and International Security Programmes

Born in 1958 in Roslavl, Smolensk oblast, Russia


Smolensk Institute of Pedagogy, Faculty of the Russian Language and Literature (1979)

Moscow Institute of Youth, Faculty of Journalism (1986)

Kyiv Institute of Political Science and Public Administration (1991)

Ph. D. in Philosophy; the author of more than 50 publications

1979 – 1989 — worked at different positions in district, regional and republican newspapers in Russia and Moldova

1991 – 1994 — worked in scientific institutions of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

1994 – 1998 — Diplomatic Service at the Embassy of Ukraine in the Russian Federation

Since December 1999 — Razumkov Centre's Leading Expert

Diplomatic Rank: First Secretary. Most recent position in state structures — Chief Consultant, Analytical Service of Ukraine's NSDC Staff

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