EPRSLibrary By / November 26, 2013

Eurasian Union

Vladimir Putin’s plan to create a Eurasian Economic Union by 2015 is Russia’s most ambitious attempt so far at the…

© Brad Pict / Fotolia

Vladimir Putin’s plan to create a Eurasian Economic Union by 2015 is Russia’s most ambitious attempt so far at the economic integration in the post-Soviet space. The Customs Union formed by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan in 2007, and the subsequent Common Economic Space in 2012, have already brought partial economic integration between the three states. The Eurasian Union is said to be a continuation of the Customs Union and aims to include all CIS states.

Eurasian Union
© Brad Pict / Fotolia

President Putin has stated his intention to partly model the Eurasian Union on the European Union (EU), which he considers a future partner, along with other key regional players such as the US and China. Conversely, some EU experts argue that the Eurasian Union is presented as Russia’s tug of war with the EU over their shared neighbourhood.

Before the Vilnius Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit in November 2013, Russia has been putting pressure on its neighbours (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine) to get them join the Customs Union. The European Parliament urged EU institutions to take a strong position in defending Eastern partners and deplored Russia’s pressure on EaP countries in its resolution of 12 September 2013.


Russia’s Eurasian Union: A Bid for Hegemony? / Georgiy Voloshi, Geopolitical Monitor, September 2012, 5 p.
The author examines the motivations underpinning Russia’s push to establish the Eurasian Union.


On the Eurasian Union and the European Union

Eurasian Union: Policy briefing / Baskina, Anastasia; Crampes, Julien, EP DG Expo Policy Department, April 2013, 22 p.
This paper depicts the state of play of the Eurasian Union and lists some challenges ahead. Next to summarising the EU’s overall sceptic position towards the Eurasian Union, this briefing also gathers positions of Russia’s neighbour countries and provides policy recommendations for MEPs.

Eurasian Union: a Challenge for the European Union and Eastern Partnership Countries / Ramūnas Vilpišauskas, Raimondas Ališauskas [et.al.], Public Institution Eastern Europe Studies Centre, December 2012, 54 p.
This analysis, carried out by authors from Lithuania, Ukraine and Moldova, reveals the concealed objectives behind the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union and covers the interplay between the integration of the Eurasian Union and the EU’s Eastern Partnership.

Towards a Eurasian Economic Union: The challenge of integration and unity / Steven Blockmans, Hrant Kostanyan, Ievgen Vorobiov, CEPS Special Report No.75, December 2012, 38 p.
Taking the data available for the early stages of the European integration process as a benchmark, the results point to a rather unfavourable outlook for Eurasian economic integration.

The Eurasian Customs Union: Friend or Foe of the EU? / Shumylo-Tapiola, Olga, The Carnegie Papers, October 2012, 38 p.
The author looks into the rationale of the Eurasian Customs Union and recommends that the European Union should attempt to engage on a technical level with the Customs Union.

Russia, the Eurasian Customs Union and the EU: Cooperation, Stagnation or Rivalry? / Rilka Dragneva, Kataryna Wolczuk, Chatham House, briefing paper, August 2012, 16 p.
The authors recommend that the EU revisit its ‘external governance’ approach to its Eastern neighbourhood in terms of short- and long-term opportunities and challenges.

On the Eurasian Union

Putin’s Eurasian Union- from pre-electoral sideshow to quest for empire / Oskanian, Kevork, Foreign Policy Centre, FPC Briefing, July 2013, 9 p.
This article shows the limits of the Eurasian Union as an opportunity to expand Russia’s influence over its ‘near abroad’.

Eurasian integration. Russia’s attempt at the economic unification of the Post-Soviet area / Wiśniewska, Iwona, Centre for Eastern Studies, OSW Studies No.44, July 2013, 41 p.
This paper sums up the progress which has so far been made in implementing the integration initiative of Eurasian Union announced by Vladimir Putin in 2009.

Putin’s ‘Eurasian Union’: Russia’s Integration Project and Policies on Post-Soviet Space / Adomeit, Hannes, CIES Neighbourhood Policy Papers 4, July 2012, 13 p.
The author suggests that the Eurasian Union project is connected with Russia’s tug of war with the European Union regarding the common neighbourhood.

The Eurasian Union Project / Katharina Hoffmann, Gennady Chufrin, Marlène Laruelle, Russian Analytical Digest No.112, April 2012, 16 p.
In this issue of the Russian Analytical Digest the authors examine regional integration in the CIS in the light of the debate about Putin’s proposal to create the Eurasian Union.

Vladimir Putin’s Eurasian Union: A New Integration Project for the CIS Region? / Halbach, Uwe, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, SWP Comments, January 2012, 4 p.
The author argues that the objective of Putin’s statement to create Eurasian Union was not to re-establish the Soviet Union, but rather to create a ‘powerful supra-national union’ of sovereign states.

Stakeholder views

EU Institutions’ views

European Commission

Answer given by Commissioner Füle on behalf of the Commission, Future of relations between the European Union, Ukraine and the Eurasian Customs Union, 21 August 2013
“As regards the EU’s relations with the Eurasian Union the EU welcomes regional economic integration schemes as long as they fully comply with WTO rules, do not create trade barriers, and are open for countries to join as a result of an autonomous choice… “

Statement on the pressure exercised by Russia on countries of the Eastern Partnership, Commissioner Füle, 11 September 2013
“The development of the Eurasian Economic Union project must respect our partners’ sovereign decisions. Any threats from Russia linked to the possible signing of agreements with the European Union are unacceptable.”

European Parliament

European Parliament resolution on the Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the CFSP, of 24 October 2013, 2013/2081(INI)
“37. Criticises Russia’s use, in violation of international norms (e.g. the Helsinki Accords), of the instruments of energy and trade policy to pressure countries in the European neighbourhood so as to compel them to join the Russia-led customs union instead of signing Association Agreements with the EU, thereby hindering their sovereign decisions;”

European Parliament resolution on the pressure exerted by Russia on Eastern Partnership countries (in the context of the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius), 12 Septemebr 2013, 2013/2826(RSP)

National views

Russia – Member State

A new project for Eurasia: The future in the making / Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Izvestia, 3 October 2011
In this much-cited pre-electoral newspaper article, Putin proposed the creation of a powerful economic block known as the Eurasian Union.

Opinion: Spiritual Values to Cement the Eurasian Union / Pavel Salin, Russia in Global Affairs, October 2013
The author argues that in addition to purely economic arguments, the Eurasian Union requires also some ideological basis.

Opinion: Pragmatic Eurasianism / Evgeny Vinokurov, Russia in Global Affairs, June 2013
Eurasia is not the same as the post-Soviet space, and its borders cannot be regarded as fixed once and for all by the Soviet past.

Website: The Eurasian Economic Community (Евразийское экономическое сообщество (ЕврАзЭС)), established in 2000.

Webiste: The Eurasian Economic Commission (Евразийская экономическая комиссия (ЕЭК)), a governing body of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space, operational since February 2012.

Belarus – Member State

Eurasian Development Bank: Economists have estimated benefits of the Common Economic Space for Belarus, press article, in Russian, 24 Janaury 2012
“The Eurasian Development Bank estimated the total gain for Belarus at USD 170 billion over the period 2011-2030. The country’s GDP is projected to rise by 15 % over the same period, thus making Belarus the biggest beneficiary of the Eurasian integration.”

Kazakhstan – Member State

World Bank: Assessment of Costs and Benefits of the Customs Union for Kazakhstan, report, April 2012.
“For Kazakhstan to achieve a positive outcome from participating in the customs union, it is crucial for it to work together with its partners on the reduction of trade-facilitation and border cost barriers as well as on the reduction of nontariff barriers, including sanitary and phyto-sanitary conditions.”

Analysis: Kazakhstan and Eurasian Economic Integration: Quick Start, Mixed Results and Uncertain Future / Nargis KASSENOVA, IFRI Russie.Nei.Reports, No.14, November 2012 , 31 p.


Press release by the President of Armenia / 3 Septmeber 2013
“[..] I confirmed Armenia’s decision to join the Customs Union and participate in the processes of formation of the Eurasian economic union.”


Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili doesn’t Rule Out Eurasian Union / interview, Radio Free Europe, 9 Septemebr 2013


Is Kyrgyzstan Stalling on Customs Union? / Eurasianet, 17 Septemebr 2013


Ukraine signed a memorandum on closer cooperation with the Customs Union (CU) / Oxford Analytica, 13 August 2013


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated “that Russia is attempting to “re-Sovietize” Eastern Europe and Central Asia, referring to Russia’s plans to establish the Eurasian Union by 2015. Clinton voiced U.S. opposition to such plans…”
Read more: Russia and the U.S. Spar Over Eurasian Union / Stratfor, December 2012
Article: Russia’s Eurasian Union Could Endanger the Neighborhood and U.S. Interests / Cohen, Ariel, The Heritage Foundation, 14 June 2013, 13 p.
“The U.S. should work with its allies and friends in Europe and Asia to balance the Russian geopolitical offensive and protect U.S. and Western interests.”


Russia's attempts at economic integration in the CIS region

Further reading

EurActiv articles on Eurasian Union

Book: Eurasian Economic Integration: Law, Policy and Politics / Rilka Dragneva , Kataryna Wolczuk, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013 (this book has been ordered and will be available in the Library in 2014)

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