EU-STRAT Final Conference starts this Thursday! (11-12 April 2019).

We would like to kindly invite you once again the EU-STRAT Final Conference which will be held on the premises of Leiden University in the Wijnhaven Building, Turfmarkt 99 2511 DP, in The Hague on 11-12 April 2019.

During the event we will present to you the most recent findings of EU-STRAT researchers on interdependencies between EU, Russia and the countries of the region, the implementation of Association agreements and scenarios for the future economic and political developments in the region.

Please click here to download the programme of the event!

There is no pre-registration required!

See you in Hague!

Policy brief on scientific cooperation in the Eastern neighbourhood is out!

Title: Scientific cooperation in the Eastern neighbourhood
Authors: Dimiter Toshkov, Honorata Mazepus, Ina Ramasheuskaya, Tatsiana Chulitskaya and Natallia Rabava
Release date: April 2019

Under the framework of the EU-STRAT project, we set out to take stock of the extent of participation of the EaP countries, with a focus on Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine, in the scientific programmes of the EU. We also sought to evaluate the scientific and broader societal and policy impact of scientific cooperation with the EU on these countries. In this policy brief, we summarize the results of our research and offer policy recommendations that can further enhance the broader impact of the scientific cooperation programmes with the EU.

Release of policy brief dedicated to reforms in energy, transport and environment

Title: Making Association Work: Achievements in and obstacles to reforms in energy, transport and environment
Authors: Laure Delcour and Klaudijus Maniokas
Release date: March 2019

The Association Agreements (AA) concluded between the EU and the three Eastern Partnership countries — namely Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia — are amongst the most comprehensive and detailed agreements the EU has concluded with any third country. Crucially, they are very ambitious in terms of law harmonization. The three associated countries have committed themselves to adopting a substantial part of the EU’s rules – the so-called acquis communautaire.

However, the scope and depth of reforms required from the associated countries is at odds with their current level of socio-economic development. While the EU expects the AA to serve as a blueprint for the modernization of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, the relevance of its acquis to their needs is to a large extent questionable.

This policy brief discusses the key issues faced by the partner countries in conducting domestic change (defined here as transposition and implementation of EU rules) in response to the AAs in the energy, environment and transport sectors. With the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) and visa liberalization, the EU offers clear rewards in exchange for massive reforms (in the form of easier market access and people mobility, respectively). In contrast to trade and mobility, such tangible rewards are largely absent in the energy, transport and environment sectors. Therefore, we ask whether the EU’s promise of modernization through the acquis has proven effective to entice the three associated countries into wide-ranging policy change in these sectors.

New policy brief evaluating the EU’s Assistance to Ukraine

Title: Fit for Purpose? Evaluating the EU’s Assistance to Ukraine
Authors: Kataryna Wolczuk and Darius Zeruolis
Release date: March 2019

Ukraine opted for closer economic and political ties with the European Union (EU) when it signed an Association Agreement (AA) in 2014. The agreement, which includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), is a bilateral agreement that regulates relations between the EU and Ukraine; it also contains a free-trade area. The agreement covers a large swathe of the EU acquis – the accumulated body of acts and court decisions that constitute EU law. As well as removing (or lowering) tariffs and quotas, the AA-DCFTA will lead to the alignment of Ukraine’s regulatory frameworks with those of the EU.2 This process of ‘legal approximation’, whereby EU rules are incorporated into national laws and institutions are created or reformed to administer those rules, is often viewed as a technocratic, ‘low-politics’ process. However, it does require strong functioning institutions to enact a plethora of commitments, something that Ukraine has yet to develop. As it is, the AA commitments exceed Ukraine’s capacity to implement them. In recognition of this, the EU has stepped up its assistance to Ukraine since 2014. This paper will provide an overview of the support provided by the EU since 2014 with a view to assessing its effectiveness.

Release of working paper studying transfer of EU rules in the areas of transport, environment and energy to the EaP countries.

Title: Political Economy of Law Harmonization in EaP Countries: Informal Adjustment of Association?

Authors: Klaudijus Maniokas, Laure Delcour, Ildar Gazizulin, Veaceslav Berbeca, Ion Muntean, and Igor Munteanu


In our paper, we look at the conditions for successful transfer of European Union (EU) rules in the areas of transport, environment and energy to the associated Eastern Partnership countries. We assume that in these areas there are fewer indirect external benefits of implementing EU rules than in the areas of trade and visa free regime and therefore the adoption of these rules should depend more on their direct relevance to the governments of associated countries. Our review of law harmonization in all three countries is complemented by three in-depth case studies in all three areas. These offer an analysis of how EU standards and templates travel to this neighbourhood by delving into their adoption and implementation and assessing the degree to which they fit with governmental priorities. The first case study considers transport and focuses on the implementation of the road safety directive (2009/40/EC) in just one country, Georgia, where implementation proved challenging. The second case study concerns Ukraine and Moldova, focusing on the role of environmental impact assessment regulations in discussions between the two countries on the possible construction of hydropower plants on the Dniester River. In the area of energy, the third case study focuses on unbundling in the electricity sector in all three associated countries. Our main finding is that transposition and implementation in these areas is patchy, but better than expected. This is due to the on-going informal adjustment of the Association Agreements, which has reduced the scope of the commitments taken. While this informal adjustment helps to lighten the burden of law harmonization and facilitate transfer of the EU acquis, it does not seem to follow any blueprint, and thus creates uncertainty among the different stakeholders over future regulation.

Release of working paper studying China’s influence on Ukraine and Belarus’

Title: The effects of China’s economic expansion on Eastern Partnership countries

Authors: Marcin Kaczmarski, Jakub Jakóbowski, and Szymon Kardaś


This paper aspires to deconstruct China’s policy towards the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries as well as to measure and assess China’s impact on political regimes in the region. It places Beijing’s actions in the broader context of China’s grand strategy and its policy towards the post-Soviet space and the European Union alike. It focuses on the developments in China’s policy after 2009, i.e. following the start of the EaP. The paper scrutinizes the evolving relevance of the EaP countries for Beijing, deconstructs long-term Chinese goals towards these actors, and identifies key instruments and carriers of foreign policy on the part of Beijing. The study is based on a number of semi-structured interviews with representatives of Chinese academia, think tanks and administration conducted in 2017. In order to measure the impact of China’s policies on local political regimes, the article adopts the theoretical framework of Limited Access Orders (LAOs) and Open Access Orders (OAOs), developed by North, Wallis, and Weingast (2009), and further refined into a typology by Ademmer, Langbein, and Börzel (2018). The empirical analysis leads to the conclusion that due to China’s general foreign policy principles, as well as its recognition of Russia’s alleged interests in the region, Beijing does not aspire to alter local political regimes. However, in the case of Belarus, the Belarusian comprehensive economic and policy cooperation with China within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative is leading to increased economic openness and the evolution of Belarus’ LAO towards unbalanced closure. The article argues that China’s economic presence in the region brings both challenges and opportunities to the European Union’s policies, which need to be addressed proactively.

Рабочий доклад EU-STRAT № 10 доступен на русском языке!

Рабочий доклад / Апрель 2018

Рабочий доклад EU-STRAT № 10 посвящен взаимозависимости стран «Восточного партнерства» с ЕС и Россией с сегодняшнего дня доступен на нашом сайте тоже на русском языке. Нажмите название доклада ниже, чтобы загрузить PDF.

Рабочий доклад EU-STRAT № 10 (2018): Взаимозависимости стран «Восточного партнерства» с ЕС и Россией: анализ трех стран

Авторы:Камиль Цалус, Лор Делькур, Ильдар Газизуллин, Тадеуш Иваньски, Марта Ярошевич, Камиль Клысиньски


В качестве ключевого фактора, влияющего на характер внутренних изменений в ответ на политику ЕС в странах «Восточного партнерства» (ВП), определены асимметричные взаимозависимости стран в отношениях с Россией. Утверждается, что взаимозависимость может как способствовать осуществлению изменений, которых требует ЕС, так и тормозить их, в зависимости от того, затрагивают ли данные изменения сферы, чувствительные или уязвимые для стран ВП в отношении политики России.

В исследовании предлагается систематический обзор и хронологически изучается развитие взаимозависимостей в трех странах ВП (Беларуси, Молдове и Украине) и в четырех особенно важных секторах (торговле, миграции, энергетике и безопасности). Далее проводится анализ использования Россией взаимозависимостей и попыток увязывания между собой различных, не связанных друг с другом вопросов, относящихся к вышеперечисленным секторам. Помимо этого, рассматривается реакция национальных элит стран на стратегию, применяемую Россией. Исходя из разделения между понятиями «чувствительность» и «уязвимость», особое внимание в работе уделяется определению условий, при которых политика стимулирования или отталкивания правящих кругов в странах ВП от тех или иных решений или шагов, благоприятных для России или ЕС, приводит к успехам. По результатам анализа установлено, что попытки России (неравные в отношении различных стран и отраслей) увязывать друг с другом различные проблемные вопросы смогли на практике воспрепятствовать дальнейшей интеграции с ЕС в тех случаях, когда политические альтернативы были слишком дорогостоящими для властных кругов в странах ВП. И наоборот, применение Россией «связок» между различными направлениями политики способствовало интеграции с ЕС в случаях, когда со стороны последнего странам ВП была предложена доступная по цене альтернатива.

EU-STRAT Final Conference: 11-12 April 2019

The Final Conference will present the most recent findings of EU-STRAT researchers on interdependencies between EU, Russia and the countries of the region, the implementation of Association agreements and scenarios for the future economic and political developments in the region. The programme is now available.

It will be held on the premises of Leiden University in the Wijnhaven Building, Turfmarkt 99 2511 DP, in The Hague.

Please find the programme of the event here.

Release of policy brief on interdependencies

Title: Interdependencies in the Eastern Partnership Region: Implications for the EU
Author: Rilka Dragneva
Release date: March 2019

EU-STRAT Policy Brief No. 4 argues that the EU can still promote change if it tailors its strategies to the complexities and dynamics of interdependence in specific countries and sectors. In particular, this means taking into account the extent to which the policy incentives of key domestic actors of national and/or sectoral prominence are affected by the countries’ embeddedness in such interdependencies

New working paper on Russia’s foreign policy towards the post-Soviet region

EU-STRAT Working Paper No. 16 analyses Russia’s policy towards its neighbourhood, with a focus on the strategies, policies, and instruments adopted in relation to EaP countries, particularly Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova.

Click on the title or the picture below to download the PDF.

Title: Russian Interests, Strategies, and Instruments in the Common Neighbourhood

Author: Laurynas Jonavicius, Laure Delcour, Rilka Dragneva and Kataryna Wolczuk


The paper analyses the peculiarities of the Russian Federation’s foreign policy towards the so-called post-soviet countries. It focuses on Russia’s policies towards Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, and the South Caucasus, with specific attention on how a complexity of foreign policy players, diverse available tools, and geopolitical as well as ideational, economic, and cultural interests are combined into a coherent strategy. The paper argues that despite common strategic goals – geopolitical security and Great Power identity – the interests of powerful domestic players hinder the creation of a consistent and long-term plan for how to achieve strategic goals. The domestic institutional logic of Russia as a Limited Access Order (LAO) creates significant obstacles for long-term planning and makes Russian policy in the post-soviet space tactical rather than strategic. The existing patterns of asymmetrical economic, political, and cultural interdependence of neighbouring countries with Russia allows Moscow to achieve short-term victories. These victories are, however, mainly determined by the rigid use of hard power tools, which in the long run reduces Russia’s attractiveness and forces neighbouring countries to look for alternatives.