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Ukraine's EU accession may require 20% budget boost - European Commissioner

Ukraine's EU accession may require 20% budget boost - European Commissioner Photo: European Commissioner for Budget Johannes Hahn (Getty Images)

Ukraine's planned accession to the EU may require a 20% increase in the EU budget. Such an increase will be necessary if the existing rules for agricultural aid and structural support within the EU remain in place, according to European Commissioner for Budget Johannes Hahn.

“It sounds gigantic, but it corresponds to only 0.2% of European economic output, and it is certainly doable. It's a worthwhile investment because Ukraine has enormous economic potential,” he said.

According to Hahn, a budget increase of 20% would mean an additional 200 billion euros in the EU's seven-year budget period as things stand today.

“The financial side gives me the least headache,” said Hahn. “The bigger problem is preparation in the EU: how do we make decisions, how do we ensure the rule of law? How do we bring Ukraine's large agricultural sector together with our agriculture?” the European Commissioner emphasized.

He said that the EU needs institutional reforms that do not depend on the accession of Ukraine and the Western Balkans, such as majority vote decision-making instead of unanimity in foreign policy.

But Hahn warned that the EU states are tired of reforms: “My concern is that some countries prepare very well for accession, meet the requirements, and then we say: Unfortunately, no.” he said.

The European Commissioner made it clear that he does not expect Ukraine to join the EU soon. According to him, a relevant accession by 2028 – the start of the next seven-year financial framework – is “unrealistic”.

He noted that it is impossible to predict when Ukraine will be ready to join.

“Entering the war is unthinkable. First of all, Ukraine is fighting for survival. All countries joining the EU must fulfill the reform requirements,” he emphasized.

Ukraine's accession to the EU

In December 2023, at a summit in Brussels, the European Council approved the start of negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the European Union.

As a reminder, Ukraine became a candidate for EU membership in 2022. However, seven conditions had to be met for full membership.

Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna said that fulfillment of two conditions was a very good result.

She also emphasized that some countries in the Western Balkans have been making the same progress as Ukraine for years, and the implementation of even one recommendation is a national holiday.