Reports 2016

Striking a Eurasian balance in EU-Russian relations?

20 January 2016

The Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which is loosely modelled on the European Union (EU) and presently has five members (Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan), has been broadly viewed with suspicion by the EU and member states, with concerns that it might represent another Russian project aimed at neo-imperialistic ambitions in the neighbourhood. Many expected that the project would not last very long. One year on from its official launch, while it remains to be seen whether it will expand in size or scope, it is still in existence and has proven to be a significant geostrategic and economic challenge for the EU, as many countries seeking further political and economic integration with the EU have found themselves in the difficult situation of choosing between association and trade with the EU or membership of the EEU. This clash of interests has been evident throughout the crisis in Ukraine, with an ongoing trade war and a significant threat to the EU, the neighbourhood and beyond.

While Russia has been consistently pushing for official cooperation between the EU and the EEU, there has been strong resistance from the EU towards this. However, under the current circumstances, questions are being raised over whether the position of the EU is optimal and what more cooperation with the EEU might look like. The European Policy Centre (EPC) organised this Policy Dialogue to consider these questions and explore the findings of Clingendael’s October 2015 Report ‘From Competition to Compatibility: Striking a Eurasian balance in EU-Russia relations’.