Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Engaging with the Eurasian Economic Union: Solution or Security Risk Too Great to Take?

23 April 2013

Would dialogue between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) be a solution to pacify Russian sensibilities? Has the EU forced Ukraine to choose between the EU and the Eurasian option? The European Policy Centre is raising these questions in its policy brief.

The policy brief suggests that even if starting a trilateral dialogue on free trade agreements seems to be the only way to stop Russia from making use of military pressure, it would only be a short-term solution not taking into account the broader picture or pre-existing trends.

The paper argues that first of all Ukraine’s trade commitments to Russia are questionable as they are based on very weak legal ground, and this “reflect[s] a strong asymmetric dependence [of Ukraine’s trade] on Russia. Secondly, it is not right to say that the EU has pushed Ukraine towards choosing as Ukrainian elites and experts have always shown scepticism towards the Eurasian option. Thirdly, if Russia had really been concerned about possible economic harm coming from the DCFTA, Russia would have made use of the WTO mechanisms and negotiations, not resort to geopolitics and military force. Finally, the EEU’s development is driven by a “top-down […] agenda” that serves Russia’s political purpose, and where Russia is fixing the rules.

In conclusion, the policy brief considers the Commission’s refusal to revise the EU-Ukraine DCFTA to be appropriate, as it would be an unfortunate precedent, based on pressure from a third country. Russia seems unlikely to surrender, as it refused to participate in the ENP and is challenging its aims. On the contrary, this would raise anxiety in the Eastern Neighbourhood. However, engagement with the EEU should move forward, and “a new agreement between the EU and Armenia would be a useful pilot run”.

Policy Brief

Project funded by the European UnionEU