Outlier or not? The Ukrainian economy’s preparedness for EU accession


Richard Grieveson, Branimir Jovanović, Miriam Kosmehl, Michael Landesmann, Olga Pindyuk, Alireza Sabouniha, Maryna Tverdostup and Stefani Weiss

Joint Study No. 2023-11, November 2023
in cooperation with BertelsmannStiftung
59 pages including 1 Tables and 35 Figures

free download

Ukraine’s status as an EU candidate country has prompted a debate about its readiness for the accession process, and some doubts about whether Ukraine can meet the Copenhagen Criteria to join the EU. In this study, we investigate Ukraine's ability to meet the economic aspects of the Copenhagen Criteria, comparing it with EU-CEE countries at the time of their membership applications and accession. We find that Ukraine is mostly a typical CESEE country, and on many indicators can be compared with the likes of Romania, Poland and the Baltic countries at the time of their application or accession or both. In certain industries, we already find that Ukraine has a decent level of competitiveness, which bodes well for future convergence prospects. When the war ends, if Ukraine receives security guarantees, it can feasibly follow the successful EU-CEE convergence and integration path with the EU. Ukraine’s main weaknesses are its negative demographic outlook, historical difficulties in attracting FDI, and limited level of existing economic integration with the EU. Tackling these issues should be among the main economic priorities when the war ends. 


Keywords: Ukraine, EU-CEE, EU accession

JEL classification: F02, F15, O40, O47, J11

Countries covered: Ukraine

Research Areas: Macroeconomic Analysis and Policy, Labour, Migration and Income Distribution, International Trade, Competitiveness and FDI, Regional Development