Leonid Litra and Ivane Chkhikvadze (The Policy Association for an Open Society)
The European Union is currently struggling with many problems. Financial crisis, unemployment and problems with refugees have changed the whole organization and the vision of it. In spite of this, the EU remains a great hope for many Eastern European states. We are mainly talking about the associated countries, such as Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine. What is the prospect of these countries to join the EU and what are the main obstacles?
The first problem is the implementation of EU rules and laws. All three countries have proven that they are able to implement these rules, though their enforcement is problematic. The rea-son is mainly the lack of finance and experience. For each country, there are also more specific reasons and it is obvious that for many politicians it is difficult to even begin discussions about a possible EU membership. In some cases, it is because the country itself is not in a position, in which it could join the EU or the EU does not have too much interest in the integration of this country. Such an example is Ukraine, where the main engine of bringing the country closer to the EU was its former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Despite all the problems with the rapprochement of these countries with the Union, all three of them are still considered possible future EU members, though strong domestic opposition could change this situation at any time. Many Europeans do not see the possibility of the EU mem-bership for Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine very positively. Most resistance can be found in Austria, Luxembourg, Germany and France, where more than 60 percent of respondents are against this idea. Yet, there are also many people who support the EU membership of these countries. In Romania, Lithuania, Malta and Croatia, this support is the greatest. What is inter-esting about the troika of the Eastern European countries is the fact that the support for the EU membership among their citizens is declining, whereby in Moldova, it has fallen even below 50 percent of the population.
In the end, the biggest obstacle is Russia. The Kremlin sees these three countries as a buffer zone between itself and the West and, therefore, the process of bringing them closer to the EU cannot really start without Russian consent. As demonstrated in Ukraine and Georgia, the Rus-sians are not afraid to interfere in the domestic political situation and put an end to the process. Only if there is a rapprochement between the West and Russia, there will also be a rapproche-ment between the EU and these three countries.