Many EU members will become 'net payers' for first time if Ukraine joins bloc

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (C) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (L) pose for a photo with Ukrainian and European Union flags after their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine on February 02, 2023
Ursula von der Leyen, left, and Volodymyr Zelensky hold EU and Ukrainian flags after their meeting in Kyiv earlier this year - Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Brussels will pay Kyiv £161 billion over seven years if it joins the European Union, turning various members from “net recipients” to “net contributors” for the first time, according to a leaked analysis.

While many member states will have to pay more into the common budget than they get back for the first time, “net contributors” such as France, Germany and the Netherlands would also face significantly higher bills, according to internal analysis of the bloc’s budget.

The paper by the secretariat of the EU council said: “All member states will have to pay more to and receive less from the EU budget; many member states who are currently net receivers will become net contributors.”

The document, which was obtained by the Financial Times, is the first modelling on the potential accession of nine new member states, a process given impetus by Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

It analysed the impact of Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and six western Balkan states joining the bloc, under the current budget rules, which will be reformed if an EU enlargement takes place.

The cost would be an estimated £222.4 billion over the seven-year budget, which would increase in size by 21 per cent to £1.27 trillion.

Ukraine, with 41.1 million hectares of farmland, would be eligible for £83.5 billion in Common Agricultural Policy funds over seven years.

It would push France into second place as the largest recipient of the much prized subsidies, which would be cut by up to a fifth in existing member states.

Ukraine would also qualify for £52.8 billion in EU levelling-up funds, according to the study, which said the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta would lose such funds if the nine countries joined.

Member states granted candidate status for EU membership to Ukraine in June, but joining the bloc can take many years and is extremely unlikely while the war continues.

Enlarging the EU by all nine countries is likely to take more than a decade and would require major reforms to the existing budget rules.

The paper warned that “very significant challenges” would have to be addressed to secure public support for a bigger EU.

It called for transitional arrangements and safeguards to mitigate the impacts of enlargement, which it said would increase the single market by 66 million people to 517 million, address labour shortages and strengthen its geopolitical heft.

It was drawn up by officials in the EU council, which represents governments, and not by the European Commission, which recently praised Kyiv for its progress in reforms necessary to join the bloc.

EU mulls accession talks this year

The commission is due to issue a progress report in November on candidate countries’ progress with the complicated reforms demanded by Brussels.

The EU is mulling whether to agree to open up formal accession negotiations with Ukraine by the end of the year before leaders meet in Spain on Friday for summit talks.

They are reported to be leaning towards giving the green light in December as a sign of support after the US Congress stripped aid for Ukraine from a Bill to avoid a federal government shutdown.

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