If the EU really wants to be a “peace project”, then Russia should join. This has been a popular suggestion on Debating Europe, with many readers sending in comments arguing it should happen (see, for example, here, here, here, here, and here).
On the one hand, the idea seems absurd. The Putin regime has annexed neighbouring countries, disrupted foreign elections, and assassinated Russian political dissidents on EU territory. Russia clearly does not meet the “Copenhagen criteria” for EU membership; it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when Russian democracy died, but today’s Russia is certainly not a democracy. Not to mention the fact that Russia seems more interested in regional integration through the Eurasian Economic Union than through closer economic and political ties with the EU.
On the other hand, is the possibility of EU membership for Russia really any more outlandish than the very idea of the EU itself? The notion that Germany and France – bitter rivals and enemies for centuries – could one day put differences aside and work together towards European integration also once surely seemed laughable.
Russia is a member of the Council of Europe. It has traditionally seen itself as historically, culturally, and politically part of Europe. Some have already argued (both in Russia and in the West) for Russia one day joining NATO. Not to mention, as French President Emmanuel Macron argued in February 2020, that the long-term collective security and stability of Europe depends upon engagement with Russia. There is no peace in Europe without Russia. Should EU membership be a long-term goal?
Should Russia one day join the European Union? Could the Russian Federation in future meet the Copenhagen criteria for EU membership? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!