How Ukraine Could Benefit Financially from Joining EU

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

As Ukraine has finally chosen the path to join the European Union and intends to use all European instruments, it is worth understanding the most effective ones.

Read about the EU Structural Funds, which help countries transform beyond recognition, in the article by Dmytro Lyvch, Yulia Shaipova, and Oleksandr Kostryba, What are EU Structural Funds and what Ukrainians need to know about them (Ukr).

The issue of European integration of Ukraine has become of interest and importance to the average Ukrainian.

The entire Ukrainian society – not just experts and diplomats – awaits the start of accession negotiations, monitoring the implementation of EU recommendations, and dreams of the rule of law and the development of the European economy in Ukraine.

Furthermore, even within the EU, there are differences and a clear gap in development between different countries (for example, Germany and Bulgaria), as well as between regions within one state.

To reduce disparities in social and economic development in the territories that belong to the common economic area, the European Union has created a special set of tools known as "structural investment funds," although the short name – structural funds – is more commonly used.

These funds had helped transform the Eastern European countries beyond recognition with their EU accession.

Under the current seven-year financial programme, there are six structural funds: the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund Plus, the Cohesion Fund, the Just Transition Fund and the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund.

Even now, as an EU candidate, Ukraine can apply for funding from the European Social Fund. Over 135 billion euros, allocated for it over seven years, are directed to combat poverty, social exclusion, and improve access to employment.

In addition, EU membership will open up opportunities for access to markets, investments, technology, and expertise, as well as increase Ukraine's credibility on the international stage.

Kyiv must clearly understand what structural funds exist and what projects within these funds Ukraine could implement after becoming a member, receiving colossal support for the development of strategically important areas.

For example, Poland received 80-90 billion euros under each of the last two seven-year financial programmes. Ukraine with a comparable population to Poland could receive approximately the same sum.

Moreover, structural funds are not loans but grant funds that do not need to be paid back.

In the event that funds are used for implementing reforms, funding from these funds lays the foundation for a new economy and transformation into a truly European country.

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