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Should Ukraine be part the EU?

Summary:
Ukraine applied for EU membership. The application has been accepted, the long journey towards membership has started. Good? Bad? Let’s first be honest about the EU. And the Russian empire – which of course is the main motivator behind the Ukrainian application. We can be short about the Russian empire. It is large, resource rich, not exactly a failed state but governed by a closed self- enriching criminal gang of with fantasies about a Russian greatness which never existed. It’s also an economic dwarf, undemocratic, technological regressing, it has dismal demographics and a low life expectancy (especially for males). For the last twenty years of so, been extremely aggressive towards, especially, small neighbors. And its a stated aim of Putin to expand all this beyond the borders

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Ukraine applied for EU membership. The application has been accepted, the long journey towards membership has started. Good? Bad? Let’s first be honest about the EU. And the Russian empire – which of course is the main motivator behind the Ukrainian application.

We can be short about the Russian empire. It is large, resource rich, not exactly a failed state but governed by a closed self- enriching criminal gang of with fantasies about a Russian greatness which never existed. It’s also an economic dwarf, undemocratic, technological regressing, it has dismal demographics and a low life expectancy (especially for males). For the last twenty years of so, been extremely aggressive towards, especially, small neighbors. And its a stated aim of Putin to expand all this beyond the borders of Ukraine, whatever the means.

The EU is different. It’s not just an economic entity. It’s a military entity, too. According to the treaty:

If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States
shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in
accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. This shall not prejudice the specific
character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States.

Commitments and cooperation in this area shall be consistent with commitments under the North
Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which, for those States which are members of it, remains the foundation of their collective defence and the forum for its implementation

Led by the USA it has been quite aggressive to a number of neighbors, too. Think of the horrible second Iraq war (even when France opted out), think of Libya. On the other hand – it has, generally, great health care, it is technological progressive, it’s an open society and even when wealth taxes should be increased (think: high inheritance taxes) and the Euro should be abolished it has managed a reasonable and even high level of prosperity for most of its inhabitants. Also, its inhabitants are allowed to work and retire everywhere in the EU, arguably a good thing and which would not be the case without the EU. At this moment, the reigning elite still has no real idea of the radical changes needed to attain a ‘high prosperity low emission’ economy but the prospects of the EU reaching this ideal are quite a bit better than the prospects of the Russian empire. It’s measuring the UN Sustainability Goals’s – and it’s not all bleak.

So, should Ukraine, a country at war, become part of the EU military alliance, therewith ‘exporting’ a war and an eternal enemy to the prosperous EU? That’s the wrong question. The truth: the EU already is already at war with the expanding Russian empire. This new European war is not a modern war. On the Russian side, Sixty year old tanks and sixty year old men are waging it, led by a 69 year old man. This old man sells the war as a deliberate attempt to revive the 100 old year corpse of the Russian empire. Sorry, not my opinion, it’s what he states. I happen to take such statements serious. He’s not trying revive something like the USSR with its rather sovereign Oblasts and Krai’s and Republics and a focus on progress, however botched and, environmentally, limited. The USSR communist party was, of course, much less decentralized but there is a reason why the USSR, once the communist party imploded, rapidly disintegrated – the USSR was, institutionally, less of a Union than the pre-2023 USA. The old man wants to change this as political decentralization is inconsistent with the essence of ‘Russian empire’. First, Russian power had to be established inside the borders of the imploded USSR. But by now, the aims have moved beyond borders (an endeavor which according to the old man does not stop at the borders of Ukraine). Of course, the NATO (read: the USA) does not like this. And yes, the NATO has been threatening. And indeed, the second war in Iraq and the ‘Special Operation’ in Lybia have been, aside from being totally daft, total disasters for everybody. But forget abut NATO. It does not rule the world, anymore. There is a reason why Estonia and Latvia and Lithuania and Poland and Bulgaria and Romania and the Czech Republic and Slovakia and Sweden and Finland are the EU nations most prominent in fighting the war with the Russian empire. in Ukraine and delivering loads of military equipment. Latest news: Romania will revive mass production of Soviet caliber shells and barrels to enable Ukraine to use Soviet era military equipment. Told you so: this is not a modern war. There are reasons why all these countries are afraid of the Russian empire: its stated aims, the unprecedented shelling, the murders, the rapes, the systematic devastation of cities, the onslaught on cultural and religious landmarks… You don’t really want this, in your country. Inside the EU, it also does not happen. Interestingly, in speeches the old man divides the world in sovereign states and colonies; none of the examples of sovereign states he mentions borders on Russia. Even Turkey is not mentioned.

To many EU countries, the Russian empire hence is a clear and present danger. They want peace and prosperity – not Russian empire. Again: believe what the old man states – he wants the Russian empire to be this clear and present danger – by all means!

In my view, this leaves few options. The EU clearly can’t trust the USA – a highly aggressive country which increasingly shows signs of being a failed stated and which, indeed, might soon fall apart (to my surprise an even older man, D. Trump, who will run for president, and even when he later tried to walk this back, praised Texan secessionists). Any kind of positive future for the EU, any kind of future which will enable progressive and socialist policies like much higher inheritance taxes, will not lie in teh west of in the east but in the EU itself. Hey, the discussion about the nefarious influence of the ICSID, an institute aimed at protecting the financial rights of owners of sunk assets, has already started. It should not be shy to become even larger than it already is.

There is also another argument. International supply chains of grains are nothing new. They’ve existed for many centuries (Rome already imported lots of grain from Egypt and North Africa). disrupting such supply chains, which is what the European war does, leads to starvation, death, hunger and disease. At this moment it aggravates an already dire situation in Kenya (multi year drought). Disrupting these chains is a crime against humanity and as such, in my view, a casus belli (the increase of grain production of exports of Russia as well as Ukraine in the ten years before the war shows that circumstances were good enough to pursue policies aimed at increasing prosperity. Forget pipedreams about the sanctity of backward empires. Go for decentralized and politically rather lame multi national hegemons like the EU. Welcome, Ukraine (and Albania, Georgia and daft mythologies abo – go for a rather decentralized hegemon like the EU. prosperity and even when there was hunger in Areas of Ukraine occupied by the Russian empire, like the Donbas). Welcome, Ukraine. Welcome, Georgia (he, retiring somewhere along the coast of the Black Sea is not too bad of a prospect…). Welcome, Western Balkans. Which leaves Turkey. I’ve always been against incorporating Turkey into the EU because of the Kurdish problem. You do not want to accept a country with a kind of civil war like situation within its borders. Ukraine is different because, as stated, we are at war already and the war has to be ended as fast as possible. I do not have a new opinion about Turkey, yet. Once, however, Russia proper might apply for membership.

Merijn T. Knibbe
Economic historian, statistician, outdoor guide (coastal mudflats), father, teacher, blogger. Likes De Kift and El Greco. Favorite epoch 1890-1930.

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