Has the EU Learnt from the Ukraine Crisis? Changes to Security, Energy and Migration Governance

Written by | Friday, May 15th, 2015

Jakub M. Godzimirski, Lidia Puka, and Marta Stormowska (The Polish Institute of International Affairs)

In light of the Ukraine crisis, the EU is facing new challenges regarding not only security, but also energy, and migration. The answer to these issues should be the Strategic Agenda for the Union in the Times of Change as well as the new structure of the European Commission. The crisis has revealed the weaknesses of the EU. It lacks the traditional hard power instruments, which appears problematic in situations when dealing with an opponent who will not hesitate to use military power. Furthermore, a complicated decision-making and the prioritizing of the status quo hinder flexible reactions in crisis situations. The existing political dialogue and economic sanctions have not yet brought a solution to the Ukrainian crisis.

The European Neighbourhood Policy presumes the influence of market forces on security and stability. It was a serious blunder on the part of the EU when it failed to provide full support for certain institutional reforms in Ukraine, e.g. in the area of border control, which in turn enabled the transfer of weapons and redeployment of Russian soldiers. A positive consequence of the crisis is the rapprochement with Ukraine. Likewise, it is an impulse for cooperation with NATO, which is in contradiction with Russia’s long-term goal to limit American presence in Europe.

The conflict between the main energy supplier and a transition country forces the Commission to discuss a vision of Europe without Russian gas. The measures include regulations in market liberalization and energy trade and the improvement of energy efficiency and infrastructure. However, the competences of the institutions are limited since the Member States preserve their rights to decide on their energy mix.

Since the beginning of 2014, the European countries recorded an increase in Ukrainian asylum applications, most notably in Poland. The strengthening of mobility between Ukraine and the EU was denoted by the Commission as one of the important instruments for the development of mutual relations. Nonetheless, the implementation of concrete programs is, in light of the crisis, still in question. The influx of Ukrainian workers could be an answer to the negative demographic trend and the decrease of work force in the EU. The core of the problem lies in anti-immigration sentiments in many Member States.

For the purpose of a coherent and operational EU, the support of the Member States and the European Parliament is necessary. Poland and Norway could work effectively in tandem to deal with these issues. Their political significance reinforced with the appointment of Donald Tusk to the position of the President of the European Council and the appointment of Jens Stoltenberg to the position of Secretary General of NATO. However, they need to forge a common strategy in order to react to the aforementioned challenges.

(The study can be downloaded here)

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