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!

IMAGE CREDITS: Photo by Iza Gawrych on Unsplash

47 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    This is just an absurd question. I mean Russia is a great civilization and an Empire, but they simply are not part of Europe. Turkey is not part of Europe either.

    I do not believe that Russia will want to join NATO and to become an ally with the USA which is one of their main competitor on the international political scene.

    However Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova are part of Europe. Georgia, Armenia and Kazakhstan are also not part of Europe entirely.

    I think the next member states should be like Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein in 2025.

    Then in 2030 you should take Monaco, Andorra and San Marino.

    It is also important to invite Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. I think Europe should just take 100% countries in Europe, both geographically and culturally.

  2. avatar
    EU Reform-Proactive

    Even if I wished- such a dream remains one- as long as the EU hides behind its defenses of values, safety & legalities.
    The EU’s Pied Piper syndrome:


    The Copenhagen criteria are setting some impossible requirements for a free Russia. Why should it hand over its sovereignty & competences to the EU? Political arrogance and political suicide side by side? It states:

    • The EU reserves the right to decide when a candidate country has met these criteria and when the EU is ready to accept the new member.

    • and the acceptance of “all EU legislation

    One could define the EU as a shocking act of “separate European development”! Such words sound all too familiar. The mother body is the Council of Europe’s 47 members, founded on 5 May 1949- while the EU received a Cesarean section on 1st Nov 1993 in Maastricht. Maybe something to ponder about? Quote:

    • The EU reserves the right to decide when a candidate country has met these criteria and when the EU is ready to accept the new member.

    • and the acceptance of all EU legislation.

    Remember Oct. 2008? Vladimir Putin said that Russia joining the EU would not be in the interests of either Russia or the EU. What now?


    It would make economic & political sense for all 47 to find a compromise and make many citizens safer & proud of Europe.


    Why create false hopes? The prevailing Copenhagen criteria are impossible to comply with, diplomacy cannot infringe on the treaties and the EU is not going to change its treaties! An oxymoron “Clearly Confused”!

  3. avatar

    Russia should not become a member of the EU. EU has to become a really democratic Union with common military…

  4. avatar

    I think it is a question to Russians if they want to be in EU – i doubt it But such idea has its point!

  5. avatar

    Is this a joke? Russia is anti-European and anti-Western Empire. It has always been so. No Enlightment happened there.

  6. avatar

    I think basically it’s what was already commented here. If they really want and play by the rules and true spirit of EU (never really implemented but sounds good in paper )

  7. avatar

    Russia would be quite at home in the EU…seems like a good time to have left it !!

  8. avatar

    We should let Russia, USA, Brazil and China join the European Union, just to make it less boring. ;)

  9. avatar

    First must Russia give back the Krim and the other occupied territories!

  10. avatar

    The people of Russia deserve to be part of the European family. The criminal gangs of the current Russian government can not perpetuate the custody of the Russian people. Freedom and democracy will prevail.

  11. avatar

    After the red mafia left, it would be an excellent idea. Not for today.

  12. avatar

    Red Army parade in Berlin incoming. :D

    • avatar

      had that before

  13. avatar

    Why would Russia want to be governed from Brussels ?

    • avatar

      why do you live in Portugal?

    • avatar

      Why do you live in Germany ?

    • avatar

      because I love the country and support its values

    • avatar

      Good for you.

  14. avatar

    If one day they will embrace democracy, accept the European Values and will accept a position as equal amongst the other European countries, maybe will join, but… sincerely, I don’t see it coming also for the reason that the moment it will comply with these issues it will dismantle. Still, it also has another thorn… China.

    • avatar

      the EU is inherently antidemocratic

    • avatar

      Yeah! I feel you, mate! Just because things doesn’t work the way I want or I don’t understand the big picture, makes me too think the same.

    • avatar

      they have a shady history when it comes to referendums, nice and Lisbon treaties here in Ireland, the French and Dutch referendums on an EU constitution

    • avatar

      this is because nobody wants an EU similar to the USA, therefore is highly bureaucratic, slow, and incapable to set a more direct election system. Why? Because of the corrupted governments and their satellites. They don’t “need” an entity that might pursue and punish their actions. Also, don’t take referendums as perfect ways to express political will. They too can lead often to aberrations. Direct democracy works best in small communities on relatively simple matters.

    • avatar

      I have a big problem with the way the EU reruns referendums until it gets the desired result, it seems to only work one way, its pretty dubious democracy, in the EU a no vote is only temporary whilst a yes is forever

    • avatar

      you should be more specific with that, but, anyway, I suggest to make an effort to try to see “the bigger picture”. Unfortunately this is not the place for such a long talk. It would have been better in front of some pints of Guinness… :-) I’m saying only to think about the fact that the European countries aren’t colonial powers anymore, their lead in technology is fading slowly, their population is getting older, the capital slowly leaked outside, their standards of living are relying on external resources, etc, meanwhile in other parts things are reversed. Just think about the challenges that this situation might bring in the future. Imagine you’d have a word to say for the future of an entire continent…

  15. avatar

    I would love that Russia would become part of EU, mentality of people not really different and in would make benefits for everyone?

  16. avatar

    Not because Russia, through its imperial policy, tends to make other states dependent on it and later tries to incorporate them into its own state. Russia is pursuing a brutal and aggressive policy towards its neighbors such as Georgia, Ukraine and Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Moldova. Russia does not respect the rights of national minorities in Chechnya, Tatarstan and other republics, homosexuals and opposition are harassed.

    • avatar

      sweetie you are brainwashed!! You are speaking with who words??!

  17. avatar

    Rusland will first have to change gigantic qua politics

  18. avatar

    I have a better idea. Lets take Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein. They are rich and they can equalize the balance between poor and rich countries in Europe.

    I think that Switzerland will never joint the European Union given its history of neutrality.

    Ireland should be United. Northern Ireland belongs to the Republic of Ireland

  19. avatar

    The next should be Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. Monaco, Andorra and San Marino should also should join the EU.

    After that Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. These countries are geographically and culturally part of Europe

  20. avatar

    Only democratic countries can join the EU. I hope that rule stands.

  21. avatar

    I wish they would. With a proper democratic order of course.

    • avatar

      wow nice idea…

  22. avatar

    One day…..
    First they should stop fighting it for their unreal and non-existent superiority

  23. avatar

    Russia has 9 time zones and 145 million people – it would dominate the european parliament. And unfairly/undemocratically it would (assuming it joined now) have 1/28th (3.5%) of the law makers (commissioners) – whilst having 24% of the electorate. Assuming it was something it and the eu wanted it would be entirely unworkable with some serious systemic reforms.

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