While the EU will probably cope with the difficulties and withstand them, its politics towards its Eastern partners are likely to suffer significant changes.
“In all likelihood, the EU will eventually muddle its way out of its current troubles. In the process, however, it is bound to become more inward-looking and wary of engaging its eastern partners,” Rohac wrote for the Financial Times.
Sooner or later, the “national interests” of European countries will become the first priority and their current united anti-Russian front will be replaced by a “cruder form of realism”.
The recent visits of German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Moscow are a clear sign that European politicians aim to weaken the sanctions regime against Russia and maintain economic ties between the countries.
“But the return to Realpolitik might not be the worst part. If the EU goes into full ‘Fortress Europe’ mode, the prospect for future enlargement will fade into the realm of political fantasy, effectively throwing Ukraine and other countries under the bus,” the author wrote.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, many post-Soviet countries were actively pursuing economic reforms because they had the prospect of joining the EU. Now, Ukrainians do not see any desirable "rewards" — except for some financial assistance.
The author argues that such countries as Ukraine would fall under the influence of Russia if the EU does not pay enough attention to them. And this scenario is, according to Rohac, highly likely, as neither German Chancellor Angela Merkel nor any other influential European politician would consider their neighbors to the east a priority for the EU.