This paper explores what factors might influence citizen preferences for closer cooperation with the EU and/or Russia in three countries from the EU's Eastern neighbourhood: Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine. The citizens in these countries have been exposed to competing narratives and policy frames, advanced by both the EU and Russia, about the purposes and effects of closer cooperation. We first develop theoretical ideas about the potential influence of framing on public attitudes towards international cooperation. We then study these ideas empirically using a survey experiment in which six different frames about international cooperation are embedded in short vignettes. The frames highlight themes such as economy, security, values or identity and were developed based on previous research on factors that influence preferences on international cooperation. The experiment was implemented among a diverse and relatively large sample of citizens in the three countries. Our main conclusions are that thematic neutral frames of international cooperation have only very limited potential to influence directly people’s support for cooperation with the EU, but might be more potent in affecting the beliefs of people about the effects of cooperation with different partners on desired outcomes, such as economic benefits, security, and good governance. These beliefs as such are strong predictors of the preferences for international cooperation partners. In addition to the results from this experimental study, we present an analysis of the relationship between the preferred media source of news for people and their preferences for international cooperation partners. Furthermore, we explore the correlates of support for cooperation with the EU with an emphasis on the potential importance of media use. We find that there are no strong differences in average levels of support for the EU among people who use different media sources to get trustworthy news, with the possible exception of Belarus.Weniger anzeigen
Asymmetric interdependencies with Russia have been identified as a key factor influencing domestic change in response to EU policies in Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. As argued in the literature, interdependencies can either facilitate or constrain EU-demanded change, depending on whether they are associated with EaP countries’ sensitivity or vulnerability to Russia’s policies. In this paper, we provide a systematic mapping and process-tracing of interdependencies in three EaP countries (Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine) and four key sectors (trade, migration, energy and security). We further explore Russia’s use of interdependencies and attempts at issue-linkage between the above sectors. Finally, we scrutinize domestic elites’ responses to Russia’s strategies. Drawing upon the distinction between sensitivity and vulnerability, we seek in particular to identify the conditions under which Russia’s policies effectively incentivize or disincentivize the political elites in EaP countries to engage with the EU’s and Russia’s policies. We find that Russia’s attempts to link issues (even if to varying degrees across countries and sectors) effectively undermined further integration with the EU in those cases where policy alternatives were too costly for the incumbent elites. By contrast, Russia’s use of nexuses between different policy sectors have facilitated or even supported integration with the EU when the latter offered an affordable alternative to the EaP countries.Weniger anzeigen
This paper takes the seminal work of Douglass North, John Wallis and Barry Weingast on varieties of social orders as a starting point to introduce a refined typology of limited access orders (LAOs) that integrates the political and economic fundamentals of hybrid (in)stability. We find that LAOs do not necessarily constrain access in the political and economic sphere to the same extent. Some combine relative economic openness with strictly limited political competition, while others constrain access to economic resources but allow for a considerable degree of political opening. This latter type proves to be the most instable type of LAO. The different strategies used by dominant elites to maintain stability in various types of LAOs provide insights into how open access institutions interact with limited access institutions in hybrid regimes. While we develop our typology for six post-Soviet countries from the third wave of democratization that function as LAOs, our typology may be applied to other hybrid regimes as well.Weniger anzeigen
In discussing relations between post-Soviet countries, interdependence, and dependence on Russia in particular, is often portrayed as a natural inevitability. What this ignores, however, is that interdependence can be created and perpetuated by policy itself. It is the outcome of a political game where a range of interests is involved, resulting in a set of governance arrangements or regimes. Understanding this dynamic has important implications for the effectiveness of the European Union’s engagement in the region.
This paper examines what regimes interdependence between Russia and its neighbours (Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine) are embedded in, but also how these arrangements affect interdependence in their own right. The focus here is on formal international agreements between these countries, but also on less institutionalized interactions and transactional dealings governing relations across four sectors of notable interdependence: trade, migration, energy and security. The sectoral analysis is based on a number of key theoretical propositions we formulate in the beginning of the paper about how the nature and characteristics of governing regimes affect interdependence or that is, the countries’ sensitivity and vulnerability to Russia’s actions as per Keohane and Nye’s framework. Importantly, we examine regimes not in isolation but note that certain subject matters are often regulated by a set of overlapping bilateral, regional or international agreements. Similarly, we note that interdependence is affected by interactions between regimes across sectors, reflecting a propensity for issue linkage.
We find that, despite variations in nature and design, formal regimes developed post-USSR provide few constraints on Russia’s unilateral actions and have thus served to perpetuate the neighbours’ sensitivity. Overlaps with regional frameworks have been important particularly with regard to Belarus, but have produced similar effects. International regimes, such as the World Trade Organization and international arbitration, have the potential to induce a rule-based dynamics. However, the reduction of vulnerability is ultimately conditional on the progress of domestic reform. The implications for the European Union, which relies on sophisticated, rule-based regimes in marked contrast with Russia’s reliance on weak and non-transparent arrangements, are many and deserve further exploration. They all, however, point to the argument that the European Union should offer not only rule-dense regimes to the Eastern partners, but frameworks offering actual policy alternatives and allowing the prioritization of key domestic reforms.Weniger anzeigen
One of the challenges to EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) policy relates to structuring cooperation with countries that have opted for membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), such as Belarus and Armenia, while avoiding the problems faced in the Ukraine crisis of 2013-2014. Acting on its revised European Neighbourhood Policy, the EU has sought to develop differentiated and flexible tools of engagement with the EaP countries, including a new type of agreement with Armenia, the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA). Delivering on this agenda, however, requires clarity on the constraints and limits imposed by membership in the EAEU. The EU has tended to establish such limits by reliance on the technocratic analysis of current obligations contained in formal legal agreements. Yet, as revealed by the Ukraine crisis, this approach has not necessarily reflected the geopolitical realities in the region and Russia’s view of integration and its compatibility with EU’s policies, in particular. This paper argues that establishing the limits imposed by EAEU membership requires an assessment of the range of legal as well as non-legal levers at play in individual member states in relation to Russia’s integration projects. What matters is how Russia as well as its Eurasian partners play the ‘integration game’, and the degree to which political elites in Belarus and Armenia can manoeuvre a space for independent engagement with the EU. This is necessary because of the particular nature of the EAEU, defined by a mixture between current and future commitments, problematic institutional boundaries between delegated powers and members’ commitments, and the prevalence of power relations within a highly asymmetric hub-and-spoke context. In this context, Russia has a continued ability to interpret the nature of the commitments undertaken and their compatibility with overlapping international agreements, and enforce it using critical interdependencies of the members. We examine how the ‘compatibility space’ is negotiated by elites in Belarus and Armenia, and elaborate on the case of CEPA as the most recent test to complementarity of integration engagements in the region.Weniger anzeigen
The EU has concluded the Association Agreements (AAs) with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. These are very ambitious, complex and comprehensive legal treaties. The AAs have a dual purpose: to enable political cooperation and economic integration with the EU and promote modernization of the partner countries. The key instrument in achieving these goals is the ‘export of the acquis’: the partner countries have taken on extensive, binding commitments to adopt the vast sways of the acquis. In this paper, however, we argue that the transformative role of the acquis on its own have not been tested and hence should not be overstated ex ante. In our view, for the AAs to achieve their objectives, it is imperative to recognise this underlying challenge and develop strategies to address the fundamental ‘commitment-capacity gap’ in the partner countries. Against this backdrop, we investigate to what extent EU’s strategy focuses on the narrowly defined legal approximation versus broader support for strengthening state capacity. In the empirical part of the paper we examine specific measures adopted to close the ‘commitment-capacity’ gap of the partner country. Our analyses indicate that only in the case of Ukraine have some deliberate, pro-active adaptations taken place. The dramatic events of 2014 and Russia’s punitive measures against Ukraine prompted the EU to provide more tailored and flexible assistance to ensure support for institutional reforms, as a precondition for legal approximation. In Moldova, the EU has confronted the fundamental weakness of the state only as a result of the 2014 banking scandal. In Georgia, it seems that the EU is conducting ‘business as usual’, although there is some early evidence that it has started to take into account the developmental needs of the partner country. The limited appreciation of the challenges and resulting adaptions so far has implications in terms of the implementation of the AA and, more importantly, the actual transformative power of the EU in the Eastern neighbourhood.Weniger anzeigen
Scientific cooperation is an important part of the European Union (EU)’s policy approach towards the countries in its neighbourhood. This has opened up many opportunities for cooperation in the areas of science, technology, research, and innovation between the EU and the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. This working paper reviews the institutional and policy parameters of scientific cooperation between the EU and three EaP countries – Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine. It provides an overview of the science policies in these countries, focusing on the lasting impact of their shared communist legacies and post-Soviet transitions, as well as on their current strategies, institutions, and ambitions in the domain of science, research and development policy. The paper also reviews the place of scientific cooperation in the EU’s science and external policies, focusing on relations with the neighbourhood and the EaP countries in particular. We also take stock of the existing programmes for scientific and educational cooperation and academic mobility between the EU and EaP countries. We present an inventory of relevant projects, with a discussion of the progress, level of participation of the research communities in the EaP, and other relevant parameters, such as the distribution of projects and participating institutions across broad scientific fields as well as disciplines. Altogether, we find that Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine have registered a considerable degree of participation in the science and research programmes of the EU, but we also identify a number of barriers and structural impediments to a more successful partnership.Weniger anzeigen
Russia and the European Union (EU) pursue active policies in their shared neighbourhood. The official Russian foreign policy discourses that we analyse here provide insights into the most important foreign policy ideas that Russia seeks to promote. They show how Russia perceives its role in the region and the world, as well as how it wants to develop its relations with neighbours. Building on previous studies identifying the main discourses in Russian foreign policy, this paper offers a new, comprehensive analysis of recent Foreign Policy Concepts and the annual Presidential Addresses to the Federal Assembly during President Vladimir Putin’s third term. The paper contributes to our understanding of Russian foreign policy discourses and Russia’s stance vis-a-vis the EU in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) region. Rather than focusing on a single aspect of foreign policy (a common practice adopted by many existing studies), it provides an analysis of all of them, thereby showing any shift in emphasis on different aspects of foreign policy and regions over time. Moreover, it takes a closer look at the content of the economic pitch within the official Russian discourses to attract the countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In this way, rather than focusing on what Russia does not offer (the values and political system of Western countries), it investigates whether the discourses presented contain a potential positive offer for the countries in the region.Weniger anzeigen
Soft power can be exerted by a variety of actors using different channels and tools. This paper focuses on actors and channels transmitting Russian messages and discourses in the Eastern Partnership countries. It contributes to enhancing our understanding of Russian influences in the region in two ways. First, it maps the network of influential actors who have the potential to transmit Russian messages and target various audiences. Second, it offers a detailed analysis of the coverage of Russia (and the European Union (EU)) in one important channel for dissemination of information about Russia and the EU: popular TV stations in Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine. The analysis shows the presence of a wide variety of actors focusing on ‘compatriots’, religious bonds, and Russian-language speakers in the region, which reflects the key ideas of the ‘Russian World’ narrative. These actors promote Russia’s role as a centre of gravity and aim to appeal to Russians, Slavs and Orthodox Christians. This image of Russia, however, does not dominate the news programmes in any of the three countries. In Moldova and Ukraine, Russia is most often mentioned (negatively) in the context of security, while in Belarus it is covered more often than the EU in economy-related news items. Moreover, a large portion of the news about Russia and the EU has no positive or negative tone or is presented in a balanced way. In general, apart from what was conveyed by Russian TV channels, Russia does not have a more positive image than the EU in the news programmes in the countries we monitored.Weniger anzeigen
In 2014-2015, the European Union revised its neighbourhood policy (ENP), aiming to introduce more differentiation and a more pragmatic approach to the varying levels of ambition for cooperation or integration of neighbouring countries. The Eastern Partnership, a policy explicitly targeting the EU’s eastern neighbours, has encountered serious setbacks in the face of Russia’s increasingly aggressive stance. Communication about what the EU does with and for neighbouring states is an essential component for the success of the revised ENP, especially given rising concerns about Russia’s use of media to promote its own view of developments in the region and the choices of neighbouring countries as a zero sum game. This paper seeks to establish what the EU’s communications reveal about its status as soft, normative or transformative power in the region. The paper analyses the EU’s communications towards Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine for a two-month period in 2016, after the adoption of the revised ENP. To guide the analysis, the paper revisits the concepts of soft, normative and transformative power. Comparing the scope and elements of these concepts, we suggest that transformative power approaches stress a broad spectrum of reform targeting future members, while soft and normative power address any third states. Soft power includes economic aspects contributing to the EU’s (or other powers) attractiveness, while as a normative power the EU focuses primarily on norms. Using this framework, the paper finds that the EU’s official communications to Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine represented a different mix of elements. Communications to Belarus were different from the communications to the other two states, stressing normative and rights issues. The range of concepts addressed in communications to Moldova and Ukraine has been broader and more varied. The main emphasis in communications to Ukraine and Moldova were democratic governance (Ukraine) and economic reforms (Moldova). Therefore, it is possible to distinguish normative and transformative power elements in the EU’s communications to the three Eastern Partnership countries. Last but not least, there is still a substantial share of messages that are event driven, that is, focus on specific events rather than on the benefits of cooperation with the EU as a whole.Weniger anzeigen