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The European Union and Russia’s Integrationist Policies in the Post-Soviet Space

March 2011 | #09

by: Tomislava Y. Penkova
pp: 30
ISSN: 2038-632X

Paper's frontpage
March 2011 | #09


Since 1991, Russia has been searching for a niche for itself in the new European (Western) system. The various integrationist projects it has promoted in the post-Soviet space (Commonwealth of Independent States, Eurasian Economic Community, Collective Security Treaty Organization, Shanghai Cooperation Organization) suggest that it also seeks to create a system of its own there. This regional design, however, clashes with the European Union’s regional policies such as the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership. Tensions are heightened by the new independent states as well, which often experienced periods of state weakness, economic instability and persistence of unresolved conflicts, exposing their vulnerability to external forces. The result of these dynamics is the understanding that the fate of these countries cannot be detached from the course of Russo-EU relationship.
This paper will try to cast light on the poorly explored issue of EU and Russia’s policies in post-Soviet space with the purpose to determine to what extent they are competitive, as often affirmed by Moscow, and what are the possible future regional developments. The underlying logic of both the EU and Russia reinforces the view of a current competition over the region. However, considering EU’s weakened leverage and its insufficient engagement in the region, we believe that the antagonism regards only a competition for being a positive source for attracting countries in the area.
The EU has always exercised influence, meant as attractiveness, over its Eastern neighbours, though this influence has never been converted into any kind of control over regional trends. On the contrary, Russia exercises to some extent control through a combination of soft and hard power, but it still lacks sufficient attractiveness to ensure the effectiveness of its policies. EU enlargement fatigue and its neighbourhood policies excluding membership prospects greatly weaken the Union’s impact. This offers Moscow a chance to pursue its own regional design of becoming an attractive and influential, regional power-centre in a multipolar world. Its success, however, will depend on its ability to maintain economic growth pace, restore confidence in neighbouring countries (undermined by the Soviet legacy) and implement its domestic agenda for modernization. The latter may become a source for higher standards and resources to be transferred to the region strengthening its cohesion. Cooperation and coordination with the EU should not be ruled out. In fact, some Russian scholars speak of the creation of a pan-European integrated space comprising the EU, the states of the common neighbourhood and Russia.



Russia,European Union, post-Soviet space, regionalism, multipolarity, partnership for modernization, EurAsEC, SCO

Table of contents

1 Introduction
2 EU and Russia: a competition between different approaches
3 The EU policies vis-à-vis the post-Soviet space
4 Russia and the near abroad
5 Future scenarios
About the author

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