Iryna Kosse, Institute of Economic Research and Policy Consulting (WG2 UNP) at the invitation of PMCG – Policy and Management Consulting Group attended a conference in Georgia.

Iryna talked about the requirements for reforms that are put forward to the candidate for joining the EU, as well as the need to adapt these requirements to new realities.

Iryna Kosse’s speech at the conference “Invigorating Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy for a Resilient Europe” on Feb. 21, 2024 in Tbilisi, Georgia

Ladies and Gentlemen,
It’s an honor to address you today, especially here in Georgia, a nation that shares with Ukraine and Moldova not just the aspiration for European Union membership, but also the challenges and opportunities that this journey entails.
The European Union’s enlargement policy, grounded in the principles of reform conditionality, has long been a cornerstone of its approach to welcoming new members. This process ensures that aspiring countries align with EU standards in democracy, human rights, economic policy, and the rule of law. For Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, meeting these conditions is not just about fulfilling technical criteria; it’s about embracing the transformative power of European values to drive progress and resilience within our societies.
However, the landscape of our journey towards EU membership has been dramatically altered by the aggression from Russia. The war has not only posed direct military threats, but also economic challenges and attempts to influence the political stability within our borders and beyond. In response, the European Union is prompted to rethink its reform conditionality, adapting to the realities of security concerns and the need for greater resilience against external pressures.
In light of these developments, it’s clear that the EU’s conditionality framework must evolve. Enhanced focus on security reforms, energy independence, and cyber resilience is now as crucial as the traditional pillars of economic stability and democratic governance. For Ukraine, the rapid development of our military technology industry and our efforts to ensure energy security exemplify the kind of adaptability and resilience that should be recognized and supported within the EU’s revised conditionality criteria.
For Ukraine, there are around 230 conditionalities envisaged in key documents to be implemented by Ukraine in 2024 alone. 69% of these are recommendations by the European Commission in the Enlargement Report, as well as recommendations by G7 ambassadors and US priority reform list. The remaining 31% are conditionalities linked to the receipt of budget support (from IMF, under the EU Ukraine Facility, from the World Bank). Half of those reforms are unique, and half overlap. EU Enlargement Report has over 100 recommendations divided into 6 clusters. The clusters are fundamentals, internal market, competitiveness, green agenda, resources, agriculture and cohesion, and external relations. These are non-financial conditionalities. 53% are reforms to strengthen institutions, 36% are structural reforms, and 11% are reforms to achieve macro-financial stability. More than 60 conditionalities and recommendations are for anti-corruption, judiciary and law enforcement areas.
Overall, Ukraine needs to implement around 2,800 EU legal acts as part of the admission process.
To narrow the income per capita gap and achieve robust economic growth, it is crucial for Ukraine to prioritize addressing the most critical constraints that hinder its economic development. By focusing on the areas where the impact of reforms is most significant, Ukraine can maximize its efforts to stimulate growth effectively.
As front-line states facing the brunt of Russian aggression, Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova are in a unique position to contribute to the EU’s strategic thinking on enlargement. Our experiences offer valuable insights into strengthening the EU’s external borders, enhancing energy security, and countering misinformation campaigns. By sharing our learnings and collaborating more closely, we can help shape an enlargement policy that is robust, responsive, and reflective of the geopolitical realities we face today. For example, with Ukraine in the union, the EU would increase its arable land by about a third and would significantly increase its weight as a geostrategic actor and a guarantor of global food security.
As we navigate these complex challenges, the solidarity and support of the European Union are more important than ever. Adapting the reform conditionality to address security and resilience does not mean diluting our commitment to European values; rather, it means enhancing our collective ability to defend those values against emerging threats.
In closing, I urge us all to view the adaptation of EU reform conditionality not just as a response to Russian aggression, but as an opportunity to build a stronger, more resilient Europe. Together, with a revised approach to enlargement that acknowledges the realities on the ground in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, we can forge a path towards a European Union that is richer for its diversity, stronger in its unity, and unyielding in the face of adversity.
Thank you.


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