Opinion & Analysis

The impact of Ukrainian membership on the EU’s institutions and internal balance of power

While each previous addition of new Member States has had an effect on the EU’s institutional architecture, the impact of Ukraine’s accession would be particularly large given the sheer size of the country.
In terms of pre-war population, Ukraine would be the fifth largest in the EU, amassing a vote share of almost 10 % in Council decision-making passed by qualified majority. The addition of Ukraine’s veto right on matters decided by unanimity, its Commissioner, judge, and auditor would not, in and of themselves, render the institutions to which they pertain dysfunctional. But as more new members are added to the EU, the risk of complicating the smooth functioning of institutions goes up.

To stave off the risks inherent in the EU’s enlargement with Ukraine, as indeed Moldova and Western Balkan countries, Member States have started exploratory talks about institutional reform. But any expectations about ambitious reforms should be tempered. Apart from the activation of Treaty-based mechanisms to facilitate decision-making and the introduction of what is legally required in terms of representational rights to incorporate Ukraine and other acceding countries, the political landscape is currently too divided for bolder EU institutional reform.

Yet without progress in political integration, the EU would be reduced to an arena for contentious bargaining over national interests. Hence, this policy paper presents a number of recommendations.

About the author

Steven Blockmans is Director of Research at CEPS (Brussels). He is also Senior Fellow at the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute at ICDS (Tallinn), Visiting Professor at the College of Europe (Natolin), and Editor-in-Chief of the European Foreign Affairs Review.

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