Eighth EU-STRAT Working Paper is out!

Working paper / March 2018

EU-STRAT’s eighth working paper is out. Click on the paper title below to download PDF.

Working Paper No.8 (2018): How Bilateral, Regional and International Regimes Shape the Extent, Significance and Nature of Interdependencies

Rilka Dragneva, Laure Delcour, Marta Jaroszewicz, Szymon Kardaś, and Carolina Ungureanu



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.

Fourth EU-STRAT newsletter is available!

Newsletter / January 2018

We have just released  EU-STRAT’s fourth newsletter!

Highlights include:

  • Full coverage of the sessions and roundtable that took place during EU-STRAT’s Midterm Conference on October 5th and 6th 2017


  • “Georgia should consistently knock on the EU’s and NATO’s doors”: An interview with Kakha Gogolashvili (Senior Fellow and Director of EU Studies at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies / member of EU-STRAT’s Advisory Board)


  • “The European Parliament has laid the foundations for a breakthrough in the EaP”: Policy Comment by Laima Andrikienė (MEP)


  • Overviews of EU-STRAT’s latest working papers


…and more! 

Click here to download the fourth issue of EU-STRAT’s newsletter!

Detailed report summarizing EU-STRAT’s midterm conference sessions is out!

EU-STRAT’s midterm conference entitled “The EU and Eastern Partnership Countries: An Inside-Out Analysis and Strategic Assessment” took place in Vilnius from October 5 to October 6, 2017.

The midterm conference was dedicated to presenting EU-STRAT’s intermediary research findings related to varieties of social orders in Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, interdependencies with and soft power by the EU and Russia, and featured insights and debates on the future of the EaP. Bringing together participants from the EU and EaP countries, as well as third countries, the project team aimed to raise awareness of EU-STRAT’s research agenda, which is highly relevant to the region’s current political situation.

The conference was opened with keynote speeches and welcoming addresses by:

  • Asta Skaisgirytė, Political Director of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry
  • Professor Leszek Balcerowicz, Head of the International Comparative Studies Department at the Warsaw School of Economics and former advisor to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko,
  • Vassilis Maragos, Head of Unit at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR).
  • Andrius Kubilius, former Prime Minister of Lithuania and current Member of the Lithuanian Parliament

The welcoming addresses and keynote speeches began the two-day conference, which included six panel discussions on different topics of EU-STRAT research as well as a round table on the future of the EaP.

If you would like to know more about the conference and read about the keypoints of all the discussions which took place during the event please take a look at:

the report summarizing the EU-STRAT’s midterm conference and its findings. 

Workshop in Tbilisi, 20-21 November 2017

As part of the Horizon2020 project EU-STRAT –The EU and Eastern Partnership Countries: An Inside Out Analysis and Strategic Assessment – Katharina Hoffmann and Ole Frahm from the University of St Gallen conducted a workshop in Tbilisi on 20-21 November 2017 with mostly young researchers and practitioners from five Eastern Partnership region countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine). In addition to the main objective of jointly developing a common framework for event data collection on Eastern Partnership countries’ bilateral relations with Turkey, another key aim was to transfer knowledge on best practices of social science methods.

In organizing and running the workshop which took place at Fabrika, a converted former sewing factory, the team from St Gallen cooperated closely with the Caucasus Research Resource Center in Tbilisi with whom the university had already collaborated as part of the FP7 project ISSICEU (www.issiceu.eu). The meeting in Georgia therefore also served to strengthen and enlarge an existing network of researchers from the region. Befitting the occasion, the conversation at the closing dinner was held in a mixture of German, English, Russian and Turkish.

A follow-up event is planned for 2018 to ensure that all participants can make ample use of the data both during the project and beyond.

Seventh EU-STRAT Working Paper is out!

Working paper / November 2017

EU-STRAT’s seventh working paper is out. Click on the paper title below to download PDF.

Working Paper No.7 (2017): Assessing Legal and Political Compatibility between the European Union Engagement Strategies and Membership of the Eurasian Economic Union

Rilka Dragneva, Laure Delcour and Laurynas Jonavicius



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 huband-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.

Dialogue with H2020 Project FEUTURE

On 19 October 2017 EU-STRAT researchers from the University of St. Gallen have attended the mid-term conference of the H2020 project FEUTURE (www.feuture.eu) to start dialogue on Turkey-related research. FEUTURE , a collaborative project on Turkey-EU relations, and EU-STRAT pursue complementary research in the field of Turkey-EU relations in the shared neighbourhood, including the South Caucasus, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus.

On the panel “What kind of f(e)uture scenarios?” Katharina Hoffmann presented first EU-STRAT results on how Turkey´s role in the shared neighbourhood should inform EU-Turkey collaboration in foreign policy matters.

The panel was moderated by Piotr Zalewski (The Economist).

Nathalie Tocci (Scientific Coordinator, IAI), Javier Nino Peres (EEAS), Nilgün Arisan Eralp (TEPAV) and Katharina Hoffmann (University of St. Gallen) discussed different options of how to frame EU-Turkey relations in the future.

EU-STRAT’s Midterm Conference took place in Vilnius!

EU-STRAT’s Midterm Conference took place last week from 5-6 October at our partner institute, Vilnius University, in Lithuania. Keynote speeches from Leszek Balcerowicz (Warsaw School of Economics & former advisor to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko) and Vassilis Maragos (European Commission, DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations) started off two days of discussions on how interdependencies shape social orders, usage of EU and Russian soft power, and the strategies of external actors in the Eastern Partnership countries, amongst other research topics of EU-STRAT.

Stay tuned for video footage of the conference, but for now, we’d like to share some photos:

Leszek Balcerowicz (Professor at the Warsaw School of Economics, Former Advisor to the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko)

Vassilis Maragos (European Commission, Head of Unit, DG Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR))

Andrius Kubilius (former Prime Minister of Lithuania)

Khatuna Salukvadze (Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to Lithuania)

Coordinator Tanja A. Börzel  (FU Berlin)

Co-Coordinator Antoaneta Dimitrova (Leiden University)

EU-STRAT’s Midterm Conference forthcoming in October 2017 in Vilnius, Lithuania


EU-STRAT’s midterm conference will take place from October 5-6, 2017 in Vilnius, Lithuania. The conference sets out to present the intermediary findings of our research project EU-STRAT that set out to provide a re-assessment of the European Neighbourhood Policy, focusing on the Eastern Partnership countries.

The midterm conference features a welcoming word by Linas Linkevičius (Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania), a keynote speech by Leszek Balcerowicz (Professor at the Warsaw School of Economics, Former Advisor to the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko) and Vassilis Maragos (European Commission, Head of Unit, DG Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR)) followed by roundtable discussion on the future of the Eastern Partnership. Throughout the conference, all project partners, invited guests, and the interested public will have the opportunity to discuss EU-STRAT’s intermediary findings and debate its future research agenda.

Please find the programme of the event here (last update 26 September 2017).

Please follow this link to register for the conference.

For further information on the conference, please contact Eglė Kontvainė (egle.kontvaine@tspmi.vu.lt).


Sixth EU-STRAT Working Paper is out!

Working paper / September 2017

EU-STRAT’s sixth working paper is out. Click on the paper title below to download PDF.

Working Paper No.6 (2017): The Association Agreements as a Dynamic Framework: Between Modernization and Integration

Kataryna Wolczuk, Laure Delcour, Rilka Dragneva, Klaudijus Maniokas, Darius Žeruolis




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.

Third EU-STRAT newsletter is available!

Newsletter / September 2017

We have just released  EU-STRAT’s third newsletter!

Highlights include:

  • “Working togheter on ‘medium caliber’ goals”: Interview with Michał Boni (Member of the European Parliament)
  • EU-STRAT at work | A look at science policies and international cooperation in the Eastern Neighbourhood
  • Russian Soft Power: Official Discourses and Less Official Actors
  • Policy comment | Making Association Agreements with the EU a Modernizing Tool: towards a more focused, developmental and innovative approach
  • Stories from the field

…and more! 

Click here to download the third issue of EU-STRAT’s newsletter!