Chapter 10: Eurasian economic integration: implications for the EU Eastern policy
The European Union (EU) has sought to exert its influence in the post-Soviet space by promoting economic integration with partner countries. Alas, in many respects, this strategy is not fully compatible with the needs, capabilities and expectations of partner countries. This is because the EU offer rests on a tight connection between economic integration and the extensive adoption of the acquis communautaire – a particularly challenging and costly proposition for the neighbouring states. Initially the EU promoted economic convergence through soft law – that is, with a low degree of legally binding obligation. Such an integration formula had initially imposed limited constraints on the partner countries’ relations with other economic actors, such as Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). However, in the late 2000s the EU introduced a more legally binding framework – an Association Agreement – as a key instrument to achieve its key objective of the promotion of domestic reforms in its Eastern neighbours. The Eurasian Customs Union (ECU) has started to impinge on, and hinder the achievement of the EU’s objective in the region. This is because Russia has started to use the new regime to contest the EU’s normative power in their common neighbourhood (against the backdrop of stagnation in bilateral relations between the EU and Russia).
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