Paper for the Workshop “Elite Networks in Russia and Ukraine. Change, Structures and Political Role”, , German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Berlin, 13-14 February 2014
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.