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The Eurasian Economic Union – more political, less economic. OSW Commentary Number 157/20.01.2015

Jarosiewicz, Aleksandra and Fischer, Ewa (2015) The Eurasian Economic Union – more political, less economic. OSW Commentary Number 157/20.01.2015. [Policy Paper]

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    The Eurasian Economic Union is undoubtedly the most comprehensive form of economic integration of the post-Soviet countries since the break-up of the Soviet Union. However, the way in which the integration process has been unfolding, as well as Russia’s aggressive policy over the last year, are indications that the EEU has become primarily a political project, and the importance of its economic aspects has eroded. This has triggered a change in the way Kazakhstan and Belarus treat the EEU. Initially, the two countries viewed integration as an opportunity for the development of genuine economic co-operation. However, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in Ukraine have revealed the real significance of the EEU project – as a tool to reinforce Russian influence in the post-Soviet area and isolate the post-Soviet countries from the West and China. While the Kremlin presents the EEU as the Eurasian equivalent of the European Union, the project is in reality an imitation of integration. The reasons for this include the nature of the political systems in the participating countries, which are authoritarian, prone to instrumentalise law, and affected by systemic corruption; the aggressive policy that Russia has been pursuing over the last year; and Russia’s dominant role in defining the shape of the EEU. The EEU appears to be based on forceful integration, and is becoming less and less economically attractive for its member countries other than Russia. Moreover, it is clearly assuming a political dimension that those other member countries perceive as dangerous. For these reasons, its functioning will depend on the power and position of Russia. In the longer term it is likely that the other member states will try to ‘sham’ and delay closer integration within the EEU. This means that if Russia becomes politically and economically weaker, the EEU may evolve into an increasingly dysfunctional organisation – a development that will be reinforced by the low standards of legal culture in its member states and their reluctance to integrate. Should Russia’s power increase, the EEU will become an effective instrument of Russian dominance in the area of the former USSR.

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    Item Type: Policy Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > External relations > EU-Asia-general > Central Asia
    EU policies and themes > External relations > EU-Eurasian Economic Union
    Countries > Russia
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) > OSW Commentary
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2015 11:13
    Number of Pages: 8
    Last Modified: 23 Feb 2015 13:31

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