Russia, the Eurasian Customs Union and the EU: Cooperation, Stagnation or Rivalry?

Chatham House Briefing Paper REP BP 2012/01

16 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2012 Last revised: 9 Jan 2015

See all articles by Rilka Dragneva

Rilka Dragneva

University of Manchester

Kataryna Wolczuk

University of Birmingham, CREES

Date Written: August 6, 2012


Until recently regional integration in the post-Soviet space had been largely declarative. However, the latest initiative, the Eurasian Customs Union (ECU) appears more viable because of: first, a better institutional framework; second, a commitment to implementation followed by actual action (despite a range of transitional problems); and, third, the introduction of a system of rules harmonised with international norms and the WTO regime.

This initiative has serious implications for EU-Russia relations in general and the EU’s strategy in the post-Soviet space, i.e. the ‘shared neighbourhood’, in particular. With the ECU, Russia offers a forward-looking, advanced form of economic integration and as such an alternative to EU-centered initiatives in the post-Soviet space.

Ukraine has turned into a normative battleground where Russia endeavours to dissuade Ukraine from pursuing the landmark Association Agreement with the EU, containing the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) and is striving to get Ukraine to join the ECU instead. This emerging normative rivalry requires revisiting the EU’s approach to its ‘external governance’ approach in the Eastern neighbourhood in terms of short- and long-term opportunities and challenges.

Keywords: regional integration, regional governance, Russia, Eurasian Economic Union, Customs Union, EU, ENP, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, WTO

Suggested Citation

Dragneva, Rilka and Wolczuk, Kataryna, Russia, the Eurasian Customs Union and the EU: Cooperation, Stagnation or Rivalry? (August 6, 2012). Chatham House Briefing Paper REP BP 2012/01. Available at SSRN: or

Rilka Dragneva (Contact Author)

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

Kataryna Wolczuk

University of Birmingham, CREES ( email )

Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT
United Kingdom

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