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Hahn: Potential 20% EU budget hike from Ukraine’s accession only 0.2% of economic output, yet quick membership unlikely

EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn says Ukraine’s potential EU accession could increase the EU budget by up to 20%, which is only 0.2% of European economic output, noting Ukraine’s significant economic potential.
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Ukrainian flags outside the EU Parliament building in Brussels. Illustrative image. Photo via European Interest.
Hahn: Potential 20% EU budget hike from Ukraine’s accession only 0.2% of economic output, yet quick membership unlikely

EU Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn endorses Ukraine’s EU accession, highlighting that it could lead to a 20% increase in the EU budget, which represents only 0.2% of its total economic output. He underscores Ukraine’s considerable economic potential as a valuable investment while stressing that it is “unrealistic” to expect Ukraine to join by 2028.

Hahn says that Ukraine’s planned EU accession could lead to a budget increase of up to 20%, provided that current EU rules for agricultural aid and structural support are maintained, as he informed the Funke media group newspapers, as per a DTS report. Currently, a 20% increase in the EU budget would amount to an additional €200 billion over a seven-year budget period.

“It sounds gigantic, but that only corresponds to 0.2% of European economic output and is certainly feasible,” the Commissioner noted. “It’s a worthwhile investment because Ukraine has enormous economic potential,” adding that “the financial side is the least of my worries.” 

Hahn highlighted that the bigger challenge is the EU’s internal preparation: making decisions, ensuring the rule of law, and integrating Ukraine’s large agricultural sector with the EU’s. He also noted that the EU requires institutional reforms, like adopting majority decision-making in foreign policy, independent of Ukraine and the Western Balkan countries’ accession.

My concern is that some countries will prepare very well for accession, fulfill the conditions and then we will say: Unfortunately, no,” Hahn said.

The EU Commissioner emphasized that it is “unrealistic” to expect Ukraine to join the EU quickly, particularly by 2028, the start of the next seven-year financial framework. He noted that it is impossible to predict when Ukraine will be ready for accession, explaining that accession under conditions of war is inconceivable since Ukraine is fighting for survival and all accession countries must meet the necessary reform requirements.

Earlier, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Shmyhal said he sees Ukraine’s EU accession as more beneficial for the EU than costly, stressing Ukraine’s strengths in defense, energy, agriculture, raw materials, and digital technology. Shmyhal highlighted Ukraine’s potential as a defense hub with a strong military and growing drone industry and noted Ukraine’s capacity as an energy hub with surplus energy and significant gas storage. Shmyhal emphasized Ukraine’s role in stabilizing the global food market and dismissed concerns about unfair competition in agriculture.

Ukraine’s EU membership bid timeline

  • 28 February 2022: Ukraine applies for EU membership four days after the Russian full-scale invasion.
  • 10 March 2022: The Council of the European Union asks for the European Commission’s opinion on Ukraine’s application.
  • 8 April 2022: The European Commission presents Ukraine with a legislative questionnaire.
  • 9 May 2022: Ukraine responds to the legislative questionnaire.
  • 17 June 2022: The European Commission recommends granting Ukraine candidate status for EU accession.
  • 23 June 2022: European Council grants Ukraine candidate status for EU membership.
  • 14 December 2023: The European Council decides to open accession negotiations with Ukraine, making it one of the nine current EU candidate countries.

Earlier this month, Ukrainian PM Denys Shmyhal expressed Ukraine’s aim to begin EU accession negotiations no later than June, highlighting strong EU support and readiness, claiming that Ukraine has fulfilled all requirements to start the negotiation process.

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