Eurasian Economic Union between EU and China – Chance for more Connectivity in Eurasia?

Closed workshop 22.05.2019

Europe has two economic integration projects– the well-established European Union (EU) and the fairly new Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), comprising of the post-Soviet countries of Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. These countries co-operate closely with Russia but trade increasingly with the EU and would profit from closer economic ties with the Union. However, membership in the EEU, which is a customs union, does not allow for bilateral trade agreements with third countries. But other ways to increase regional economic connectivity exist. First, one can work towards alignment or at least mutual recognition of technical standards and trade procedures between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union – the process which is (slowly) underway already. A much more ambitious goal would be a creation of a common Free Trade Area between the EU and the EEU, currently off the table for political reasons. China is another important player in the region, increasing its stakes in post-Soviet countries, particularly in Central Asia, as part of its large-scale Belt and Road Initiative. Given this constellation of players, what is the best way to increase regional connectivity? How to design future economic relations in Eurasia to the benefit of EU, Russia and countries of their joint neighbourhood?



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