December 13, 2023 - 1:00pm

Admitting Ukraine into the European Union could cost up to €190 billion out of the bloc’s €1.1 trillion multi-year budget, according to German Economic Institute (IW) figures.

According to the new study’s calculations, approximately €50-90 billion would be diverted to cohesion funds while a further €70-90 billion would go to agricultural subsidies. These figures mark a substantial financial hit to EU member states, with the authors concluding that many current net recipients of EU funds would turn into net contributors. 

EU heads of state are due to gather in Brussels later this week to formally consider admitting Ukraine into the bloc, but these findings may cast a cloud over talks. Agriculture has been a major point of contention among Central and Eastern European states, with Bulgarian and Romanian farmers protesting the import of Ukrainian grain by blocking border checkpoints following the lifting of import bans. Hungary is also sceptical, and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has warned that he will obstruct accession talks.

The latest report out of Germany aligns with leaked EU estimates from October which found that Ukrainian accession would cost $186 billion, including €96.5 billion in farming subsidies and €61 billion in cohesion funds. This EU analysis concluded that, if Ukraine is admitted, “all member states will have to pay more to and receive less from the EU budget”, and wealthy nations will have to contribute substantially more. 

As the EU mulls its relationship with Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is meeting with US President Joe Biden and members of Congress today in Washington D.C., where the mood towards Ukraine is even less sunny. 

Zelenskyy’s private remarks to members of Congress failed to move the needle among Republicans, who are maintaining their refusal to sign on to further Ukraine aid in a stalled legislative funding package until their border security demands are met. Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson reiterated his support for Ukraine against Putin’s invasion in his meeting with Zelenskyy, but said the White House had still not articulated a path to victory despite his numerous requests. Zelenskyy’s remarks contained no new information, according to Senator Eric Schmitt. 

A vocal contingent of the Republican Party has long criticised American support for Ukrainian defence, considering the effort excessively costly, irrelevant to American interests and unlikely to result in a win for Kyiv. Johnson, who is far more sceptical of Ukraine aid than his predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, recently bristled at Biden’s request for further aid funding. 

All of this hesitation comes amid a growing scepticism about Ukraine’s chances of total victory; Ukraine’s commander-in-chief called the conflict a “stalemate” in November, and in the same month European leaders began discussing peace negotiations behind the scenes. Meanwhile, Zelenskyy continues to resist calls for negotiations — an attitude one of his close aides called delusional, according to Time

The US has given $44.2 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s 2022 invasion. The EU and its member states have provided $91 billion.

is UnHerd’s US correspondent.