So what is associate membership?
“The new agreement between Ukraine and the European Union will be an association agreement” - this is what the declaration of the Ukraine-EU summit, which took place on September 9, says. But what does “association” mean? Can Ukraine then be called an associate member of the European Union? There are no direct answers to these questions yet. Let's try to clarify.
Now it is very rare to hear about the associate membership of Ukraine in the EU. And a few years ago, they talked a lot about this in the first months of Yushchenko’s coming to power, and earlier, when in well-known political circles it became uncomfortable with the idea that Ukraine could create a single economic space with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. It was then, 5 years ago, and they began to say, they say, why do we need the SES, if it prevents Ukraine from becoming an associate member of the EU - after all, it allegedly could become such very soon.
At the same time, the idea was formed that such membership is just as necessary a stage for a full-fledged entry into the EU as the caterpillar and pupal stages for the appearance of a butterfly, or, as in Soviet times, being in October and pioneers for joining the Komsomol. Such a truth seemed so taken for granted that there seemed to be no natural, seemingly questions:
1) what rights will Ukraine receive as an associated member?
2) who else has a similar membership?
Somehow it implies that such a member of the EU is something like a candidate member for the CPSU in the past: he can take part in party meetings with an advisory vote and knows that when his candidate’s experience ends, he will become full member of the party.
Yes, in Europe there are indeed states that are not members of the EU, but have a definite participation in the formulation of Union decisions, which even candidates in this organization do not have. These are members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which together with the EU form a common market called the European Economic Area - Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein (EFTA also includes Switzerland, which, however, refused to participate in this association). In accordance with the agreement that entered into force on 1 on January 1994, the EU consults with the three mentioned states in drafting Union legislation. However, they are not involved in making decisions.
In practice, the economic legislation of these countries is synchronized with the EU across all sectors except agriculture and fisheries, and the joint committee of the EU and the rest of the common space countries decides on the extension of the new economic laws of the Union to the three common market states mentioned.
So far this mechanism has functioned quite smoothly. Due to high economic development and synchronization of legislation, EFTA countries are considered to be the closest to the EU, and the reason for their non-alignment with the organization is only their unwillingness. Article 1 of the Agreement on the European Economic Area states that this document is an “association agreement”.
Thus, it is logical to call Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein associate members of the EU, but they are not so referred to in official documents of the European Union.
So what then is associate membership?
There is no answer to this question, because in reality the notion of “associated membership” is not found in EU documents. It is an invention of politicians and journalists. Not only Ukrainian. It can often be found in the press, focused on the Russian audience. At the same time, Eastern and Southern European countries were named associate members, which concluded association agreements with the EU and were considered in Brussels as potential EU members in the future. Maybe the fact is that for the Russian ear the words “associate member” sounds more natural than the “party to the association agreement”?
I immediately recall the proverb: “though you call a pot - only do not plant in the oven”. Does it really matter how the agreement is called, if in practice it makes the state the most associate member, opening the prospect of full-fledged membership? But the fact of the matter is that a contract whose title contains the word “association” does not necessarily open up such a prospect.
Associations in the early years of the EU
The first association agreements the European Economic Community (formerly the EU was called this way) concluded 1963 with Greece, Turkey and a group of former African colonies in France, Belgium and Italy. The latter document, commonly referred to as the Yaoundé Convention, was officially called the “Association Convention between the European Economic Community and the African and Malgash states associated with this community”. Of course, in Europe there were no plans to accept Chad, Niger or Madagascar to the EEC. And the leaders of these countries did not have the slightest illusion about this.
Then, the association was primarily meant to spread trade preferences in the relations between the metropolis and the former colonies to the relations of all the EEC countries with the parties to the agreements. One of the consequences of these surviving preferences was the trade war between the EU and the United States that broke out a few years ago over bananas from African and Caribbean countries. However, the word “association” to characterize relations with these countries has long disappeared from the official lexicon. This happened in 1975, when the Lome convention replaced the Yaoundé convention.
As for Greece and Turkey, the agreements dealt with measures for the transition to free trade and the creation of customs unions with them, but not about the prospect of admission to the community. After all, the level of these countries did not correspond at all to the level of the founders of the EEC, and most importantly, the founders themselves did not seek to expand the community even at the expense of their respective economies of Great Britain, Austria, Switzerland and Scandinavian countries, which together with Ireland and Portugal created at the end of 1950 EFTA And the agreements with Greece and Turkey were just a good move by the EEC in competition with another Western European grouping.
With the departure of de Gaulle’s policy of isolationism in the EEC, it was over, and after short negotiations, Great Britain, Ireland and Denmark joined the community. At the same time, no agreements on their association with the EEC were concluded at the transition stage, but at the same time association agreements were concluded with the former British colonies in Europe - Malta and Cyprus. Their goal was to create a customs union in perspective, but no more.
Thus, in the practice of the European Union in 1960 — 1970. the word “association” was used to denote agreements with states that are incomparable in their level of development with the members of the EEC. The very notion of “association” does not imply that it can be applied only to the relations of a senior and junior partner. However, these are the nuances of a political language. After all, once the word “colony” did not name a country forcibly seized by another state.
After the association agreement with Malta, the EEC has not concluded association agreements with other countries for almost two decades. Without them, the community included Spain and Portugal. And for the entry of Greece did not need to enter anything about the prospect of membership in the old agreement. A little later, after short negotiations and also without any associative stage, Austria, Sweden and Finland joined the united Europe (already called the EU, but not the EEC).
European agreements for Eastern European countries
The renaming of the European Community to the European Union took place at a time when the prospect of integration into it opened for the former socialist countries, with many of which promising agreements had already been concluded. Officially, they were called "European agreements establishing an association between the EU and its members, on the one hand, and Hungary (or Poland, the Czech Republic, etc.), on the other hand." It was after them that Eastern European countries were used to be colloquially referred to as associated members of the EU. In fact, they, of course, did not receive any vote in the affairs of the Union, however, of course, these treaties were very different from the association agreements concluded by the EEC in 1960 - the beginning of 1970. The documents affected not only the economy, but also a wide range of political and humanitarian issues, and most importantly, they clearly indicated the possibility of full participation in the Union of Eastern European states that signed these documents.
Thus, in the preamble of the association agreement between the EEC and Hungary, which entered into force in 1994, it was stated: “Bearing in mind that community membership is the ultimate goal of Hungary, and that the real association from the point of view of the parties will help to achieve this goal”.
And in the first article of the contract, where the goals of the association were listed, the following was named:
“Establish new norms, practices and policies as the basis for the integration of Hungary into the community”.
The same documents established free trade zones between the European Union and the candidate countries. Moreover, the additional protocols and supplements to the agreements devoted to this topic were several times larger than the document itself. The main part of the applications were the schedules of reduction of duties on Eastern European countries on various groups of goods from the European Union.
It was at that time that the EU was trying to semi-officially define what an association is. Thus, in the book of Klaus-Dieter Borchardt “The Legal ABC of the Community”, which had been on the official website of the EU for many years, the section “Association Agreement” existed and the following wording was given:
“The association goes far beyond simple trade regulation and includes close economic cooperation and a variety of EU financial assistance to the country concerned. Three types of associations must be distinguished: agreements that maintain special ties between individual EU members and non-member countries (i.e. with former colonies. - Auth.); agreements on preparing for entry into the community or on the creation of a customs union (i.e. with the countries of Eastern Europe, and earlier with Greece. - Auth.); Agreement on the European Economic Area. "
I note that the EU did not provide financial assistance to the countries of this space, although, according to the author, such assistance is one of the indispensable differences of the association from simple cooperation. But let's leave it to Dr. Borchardt. Moreover, agreements on associations soon followed, not falling under its definition
Associations without a European perspective
From the middle of 90, a new stage began in the EU's relations with the Arab states of the Mediterranean and Israel. Instead of the existing cooperation agreements, documents began to be drawn up under the name “Euro-Mediterranean Agreement Establishing an Association ... (hereinafter the same as in agreements with Eastern Europeans). To date, such agreements have been signed and ratified with all non-European states of the region, except Libya and Syria.
The words in the title of the document seem to be the same as in the agreements with Eastern Europeans, but nothing is said at least about the distant entry of these states into the European Union. The objectives of the agreements are limited to the creation of a free trade zone (the agreements also include a mass of applications dedicated to regulating this process) and the development of political and humanitarian cooperation. However, they do not limit the right of their non-European signatories to participate in the Arab League, the Islamic Conference and the Organization of Oil Exporters.
It means that the association of the EU with the Eastern European state and the association with the Mediterranean state - as they say in Odessa, are “two big differences”.
At the same time, as the Euro-Mediterranean process began, the EU entered into agreements with the CIS countries (except Belarus and Turkmenistan), which were similarly called “partnership and cooperation agreements”. Unlike the Euro-Mediterranean agreements, they do not aim to create a free trade zone, but only allow the possibility of negotiations on this issue, when the economies of the respective states are ripe for this, and WTO accession is considered maturity. And if we compare the volume of EU assistance to Ukraine and many Arab Mediterranean countries, it begins to seem that between the partnership and the association is really a huge distance. Ukraine, like other CIS countries, was helped much less. However, much is explained here not so much by the love of Europeans for their southern neighbors, as by the desire to prevent the influx of migrants from their side.
Formula for the Western Balkans
The beginning of the new millennium was marked by another type of EU association. The process of signing agreements with the Balkan countries, called "Association and Stabilization Agreements", has begun. Such agreements with Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia entered into force, and with Albania and Montenegro signed, but are waiting for ratification. That, however, does not prevent them from using the dividends from cooperation. Thus, the EU canceled import duties on many goods from Albania long before the signing of this agreement.
The content of the association and stabilization agreement is something between the agreements with the Mediterranean countries and with the states of Eastern Europe. But still they are closer to the latter. So, already in the first articles of the agreements, where the goals of the association are described, the creation of a free trade zone is directly named. While in the Mediterranean agreements this is stated in the middle of the document. On the other hand, in the first articles of the agreements with the Western Balkan countries nothing is said about their possible entry into the EU. However, in the final paragraphs of the preambles of these documents, they are still named as potential candidates. Here is how it looks, for example, in an agreement with Albania (in agreements with other countries of the Western Balkans, the text is absolutely identical):
“Recalling the readiness of the European Union for the maximum possible integration of Albania into the main political and economic movement of Europe and its status as a potential candidate for membership in the European Union on the basis of the European Union Treaty and the fulfillment of the criteria determined by the European Council in June 1993, subject to successful implementation this agreement primarily in the field of regional cooperation ".
However, in agreements with Hungary, Poland and other Eastern Europeans, the prospect of joining the EU was mentioned in the preambles and in the first articles. And this is not an accident. European diplomats approach the selection of words in association agreements with no less thoroughness than the famous poets approached the selection of associations in their poems.
A European Perspective for Tierra del Fuego?
The end of 2002 was marked for the EU by an association agreement with a country quite distant from it - Chile. This choice is not accidental - according to the economic level, Chile corresponds to the new EU members, the European Union is the largest trading partner of this country, and most importantly - the largest investor. Well, in terms of culture and mentality, of course, it is much closer to Europe than Algeria or Morocco.
However, are all of the above circumstances enough for Chile to qualify for EU membership in the distant future? In the lengthy text of the agreement, however, nowhere is there any reference to a customs union or a free trade zone. The prospect of full membership of Chile seems fantastic even for someone who knows that the European Union represented by the French overseas departments of Martinique, Guadeloupe and Guyana has long occupied a small part of the American continent. No, you can risk integrating Turkey - although many analysts are already shaking from this perspective - but move so far beyond geographical Europe ... It is unlikely that even next generations of politicians will be ready for this. Such reasoning about what will happen in such a distant future makes no more sense than assumptions about the ability of NATO to cope with flying saucers.
So, there can be no associative EU membership. And can only be an association agreement. But this cherished word for our politicians makes no sense outside the context of the document. It’s a paradox, but what the “association” is is not very clear to the European Union itself. Thus, the book “Legal ABC of the Community”, where this concept was explained, has already disappeared from the EU site. And in the explanatory dictionary of the basic terms placed there, there is only the concept of “the process of stabilization and association,” which refers to the EU’s relations with the countries of the Western Balkans.
“Further progress” instead of potential candidacy
However, despite the absence of an official definition, one thing is clear - the concept of “association” means a closer relationship of a country with the European Union than the concepts of “partnership” or “cooperation”. However, this is not just a close connection of the EU with any state, but certainly a connection between the European Union and a weaker country, which the Union more or less involves in its orbit. The EU does not have association agreements with countries with a higher or equal level: the United States, Japan, Canada and even with Switzerland. And since Ukraine is far from the above-mentioned countries, then, of course, an association agreement is possible with it. The only question is what will be written there.
On the eve of his trip to France, Viktor Yushchenko argued that the new agreement between Ukraine and the EU would be essentially the same as the agreements signed with the countries of Eastern Europe at the beginning of 1990's. But it is already clear that this is not the case. For the prospect of membership will not be written. The text of the summit declaration shows which words will obviously be used in the text of the treaty, which is planned to be concluded in March next year: “The Association Agreement leaves open the way for the further progressive development of EU-Ukraine relations. The EU recognizes Ukraine’s European aspirations and welcomes its European choice. The Presidents believe that the gradual convergence of Ukraine with the EU in the political, economic and legal fields will contribute to further progress in EU relations with Ukraine. ”.
So, unlike the agreements of the European Union with Chile and Morocco, it refers to the "European aspirations" of the association member. But unlike agreements with Albania and Serbia, we are not talking about a potential candidacy - there are only words about the possibility of “further” (that is, after concluding an association) “progress of relations”, by which you can both imply and not imply the prospect of membership. In general, as Nicolas Sarkozy said at this summit, the door to the EU is “not closed and not open.”
In this situation, Ukrainian diplomacy must fight not to fill the agreements with words about the European choice, but for the sake of a visionary “further progress” not to make unjustified concessions in the transition to the EU free trade. Work on this part of the agreement requires particularly painstaking. Thus, the association and stabilization agreement between the EU and Albania fits on 568 pages, of which 460 accounts for additional protocols, mainly on the schedule for removing tariff restrictions. And since the Ukrainian economy is much more diverse than the Albanian, it is clear that such protocols in the future agreement should be even more voluminous.
The soft limit of national sovereignty
By the way, the creation of an association with the European Union requires a supranational body, which is the Association Council. The difference between this council and the Cooperation Council, which is envisaged by the EU agreements with Ukraine and other CIS countries, is that the decisions of the former are binding, and the latter are advisory.
So, in the 85 article of the Agreement on Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the EU it is written: "The Cooperation Council may make the necessary recommendations in agreement between the two Parties."
But in the article 80 of the Association Agreement between Tunisia and the EU states: “The Council of the Association to achieve the objectives of this Agreement has the authority to decide on matters specified in the Agreement. Decisions are binding for the parties who will take the necessary measures to implement them. ”.
Similar provisions exist in other association treaties that have been concluded with both European and non-European countries. The same agreements stipulate that if the dispute goes to a dead end, then the mediators will decide everything. It is clear that they are more likely to lean in support of the EU as a more influential and necessary side. Such advice in essence is, of course, a mild form of limiting sovereignty.
True, nowhere in the literature did not occur information about serious conflicts arising in the framework of the councils of the association. But this does not mean that they will not exist at all, especially in the case of Ukraine, where such a council, of course, will have to restrain the possible integration of the country in the eastern direction. For in the issue of integration in the post-Soviet space, the double standards of the European Union are most obvious.
The EU has usually demonstrated an interest in the regional integration of its partners, making it clear that, where this is real, it prefers to deal not with individual countries, but with formalized intergovernmental organizations. Thus, in 2001, the European Council set the condition for the conclusion of a free trade agreement with the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the conclusion of a customs union within this group. And the EU agreements with Morocco and Tunisia explicitly state that the purpose of these documents is to encourage regional integration of the Maghreb countries. As for the largest South American trade bloc Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay), with which the European Union is negotiating the association, here Brussels even sponsors integration processes (unlike the US, which do not provide such assistance, hoping to join the whole continent to NAPHTHA).
Based on this logic, the European Union should support integration in the post-Soviet space. And when the European Neighborhood Policy was born, such support was overlooked, although not as actively as with respect to the Mediterranean states. So, in the communication of the European Commission to the European Council and the European Parliament on March 11 of 2003, where the concept of neighborhood was put forward, it was stated:
“On the future eastern external border, regional economic cooperation between Western new independent states (Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus) is already very strong and focused on traditional commodity-money flows from Russia to Russia. However, support for regional political cooperation and / or economic integration has not yet become a significant component of the EU policy towards Russia and the Western NIS
In the context of the new neighborhood policy, further regional and subregional cooperation and integration between the countries of the southern Mediterranean will be substantially supported. New initiatives to support regional cooperation between Russia and the Western NIS may also be considered. ”
However, later on, due to the deterioration of relations between Russia and Europe, which occurred mainly under the influence of the “new European” countries that entered the EU in 2004, this idea disappeared. If the joint communique on the meeting of the EU-Kazakhstan Cooperation Council in 2004 welcomed “Kazakhstan's efforts in the development of regional integration (SCO, CES, Central Asian Cooperation Organization)”Then at the next meetings of this council such words did not repeat, although no one in Europe stutters about the prospects of Astana to enter the European Union.
Therefore, it should be taken into account: if the future Ukrainian authorities start making any movements towards integration in the eastern direction, in Brussels, naturally, they will immediately express their dissatisfaction and say that, say, from the EU side, for Ukraine, both the association and the door to Europe not closed. And then, of course, they will remind you that this door is not open.