Research / Geopolitics

EU-EAEU relations: Prospects and limits of cooperation

The EU is an essential trading partner for Eurasian countries, besides, within the framework of the Eastern Partnership, the EU offers dialogue and support for those post-Soviet states, that are open to collaboration with the West. The idea of building an organised framework for economic cooperation between the EU and the EAEU currently seems to have reached a dead-end for political reasons. In reality, full Europeanisation of the post-Soviet countries is more than uncertain in the medium to long term, but the aim of economic cooperation is not the regime change anyway. Instead, prosperous economic, trade, and investment relations between the EU and the EAEU (starting first with bilateral country-to-country level, then, in the long run on an organisational level) would contribute to the stabilisation of the post-Soviet space, creating a balance of power between the East and the West.

The EU-EAEU economic relations are seriously affected by political tensions since the Eurasian Alliance was formed. Russia's economic and political dominance within the group makes the cooperation with the EU impossible, as Brussels cannot afford to legitimise Moscow's geopolitical aspirations, even at the cost of its own economic damage. At present, political frameworks hamper complex EU-EAEU trade and economic deals. However, the EU should not ignore a market of a population of 183 million people in the long run. Bilateral economic cooperation on selected areas between EU and EAEU member states would contribute to the consolidation of the post-Soviet region, which would have long-lasting positive consequences.


About the EAEU

The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) was founded in 2015, with the objective to accelerate economic cooperation gap in the post-Soviet area by integrating the economies of Russia and its so-called “Near Abroad”, and also to ensure the improvement of the standard of living in the member states by increasing their economic competitiveness on a group level. Current member states of the EAEU are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia, thus bringing together 183.6 million people,[i] and a territory making up 15% of the all land in the world.[ii]
In 2020, the total trade turnover of the EAEU  was worth USD 624.6 billion, of which Russia accounted for 83%, Kazakhstan contributed 10.5%, Belarus 5%, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan below 1%, and these proportions are also corresponding for imports and exports. Russia accounts for 86% of the group’s total GDP[iii] and a full 79% of the population of the EAEU,[iv] justifying its unquestionable economic and demographic weight within the group, so the country can be considered the engine of the integration and at the same time the major obstacle to the development of the group (in terms of international relations)...


[i] “Countries in the world by population (2021).” In: Worldometer, (25.11.2021)

[ii] EURASAIN ECONOMIC COMISSION: „Eurasian Economic Integration: Facts and Figures.” 2014. (25.11.2021) p.12

[iii]EURASAIN ECONOMIC COMISSION: „Eurasian Economic Integration: Facts and Figures.” 2020. 25.11.2021) p. 3

[iv]EURASAIN ECONOMIC COMISSION: „Eurasian Economic Integration: Facts and Figures.” 2020. (25.11.2021) p.4

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