Russia is the largest country in the world and its current population is about 25% of the pre-Brexit EU. Hence, it would be a difficult task for EU to handle if Russia joins the union. The budgets would need to be reworked and EU would have to cut expenses from other member countries. This becomes the basic reason why Russia is not a member of the European Union.
Another determining factor is that the European Union puts forth some very strict policies and criteria for joining, in terms of economic, political, and military considerations. Russia, on the other hand, has always been a country which believes in its own set of rules and regulations, and it’s quite possible that it would not want to subject to EU policies on the inflation rate, budget deficit, democracy, or gay and human rights.
Russia would also have to face several industrial challenges as EU holds very strict trade, agricultural, and ecological regulations and Russia might never be able to qualify for it, especially in the context of automobiles industry. Russia would have to scrap most of its currently used automobiles and many such industries, which would only further incur the economy.
Additionally, any EU member state has the sole right to veto Russian participation, and chances are high that the Baltic states and/or Poland would exercise that right. Superpowers like the USA and China are also skeptical to have Russia as a member of EU because it will dramatically change the geopolitical balance within Europe.
Russia may have its own reasons for not wanting to join the EU. Russia’s anti-EU and anti-western rhetoric, especially concerning gay rights, politics, and economics, are potential factors that could influence Russia to not become a part of the EU.
Russia is known to be a country which shows aggression. There are tensions lingering between Russia and the European Union and the primary issue hurting the relationship between the EU and Russia today is the Ukraine controversy. Russia’s invasion and subsequent annexation of Crimea is considered shocking and inexcusable to many around the globe.
On the contrary, despite the current tensions, Russia is presently EU’s fourth largest trading partner and EU is Russia’s biggest trading partner. According to statistics from the European Commission, the total trade between the two was nearly $250 billion (€209 billion) in 2015. Russia is also very important for Europe, as it is the main source of oil and gas for EU members. With such good trade relations, it might be a positive thing if Russia becomes a part of EU.
It is believed that a Russian EU membership could serve to revitalize the EU, and in return, it would help modernize Russia and potentially curb Russia’s abuse toward itself and other less powerful countries.