The Relaunch of Post-Soviet Economic Integration
In November 2011, the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia agreed to establish a “Eurasian Economic Commission” (EAEK) charged with the development and functioning of the Customs Union and a “Single Economic Space” comprising the three states. Their presidents and other political actors referred to the European Union and its formation to frame these projects and the envisaged creation of a “Eurasian Union” until 2015.
The paper studies how these references are emulated in Russian public discourse and the legal regulation of the EAEK. Combining theories of policy transfer and gradual institutional change, the paper conceptualizes different modes of emulation. A weak authority of the EU model and weak powers of integration advocates suggest a “facade emulation” where formal similarities coexist with persisting inherited practices and behavioral patterns. This hypothesis is confirmed by (1) labeling and framing strategies that relate the EU model to familiar ideas in Russian political culture and previous initiatives of post-Soviet integration and (2) a limited emulation of labels and organizational structures from the EU within an essentially intergovernmentalist institutional arrangement.
This paper was presented at the ECPR General Conference in Bourdeaux, August 2013.
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Business elites and the Eurasian Economic Union project
Business elites can be considered important advocates of Eurasian integration since neofunctionalist theory has assigned them a key role in the emergence of supranational EU governance structures. Do business elites in Russia articulate a demand for supranational policies that supports political elites in their efforts to create such structures? To examine this question, the paper firstly discusses existing political and economic rationales for the recent steps of integration. While political motives appear to prevail, plausible economic reasons can also be identified. The relevance of the economic rationales is further explored by studying whether and how Russian business elites assess the Eurasian Economic Union project.
The paper finds that the Eurasian Economic Commission has sought to incorporate business representatives into its legislative procedure. However, major Russian business associations have devoted only selective and limited attention to Eurasian economic integration. There is empirical evidence that representatives of medium-technology industries outside the fuel sector most actively promote the project. In contrast, leading business representatives have revealed expectations of intergovernmentalist politics that are likely to impede a neofunctionalist mechanism of reinforcing Eurasian integration.
This paper was presented in a workshop on “Elite Networks in Russia and Ukraine. Change, Structures and Political Role”, 13-14 February 2014, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) Berlin.