Ukraine is expected to receive European Union candidate status at the Union’s two-day summit, which has begun today. The decision, as has been widely observed, is a symbolic one, and is likely to come as a boost of morale for Ukraine’s defenders.
Yet one should be wary of the pitfalls of emotion-led politics. For one, the road from candidate status to full European membership is long –– just ask Turkey, which has been on a road to the coveted members club for nearly 20 years.
More significantly, there are legitimate questions as to whether the European Union is the appropriate structure for providing Ukraine with what it needs –– that is, security –– and what it ostensibly wants, namely, sovereignty. Under the Lisbon Treaty, EU member states have an obligation to assist each other in the case of armed aggression with “all means in their power.” Yet this stipulation –– designed with terrorism, natural disasters, and cyberwarfare in mind –– does little to deter nuclear powers.
This is largely why Poland, say, entered the North Atlantic Treaty before it joined the EU. This is also why Finland and Sweden, both EU members, now seek protection under NATO’s Article 5. EU membership is no guarantor of security.
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