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The EU and Its Member States: Pursuing Diverse Interests in the CIS Region


The CIS region is of vital importance for the EU countries considering that both are interconnected through cooperation or membership in supranational political and economic institutions (OSCE, WTO, OECD, NATO, etc.), through transport and energy corridors, through investment, trade and migration trends.

The interests of EU member states in the region are very diverse and are sometimes pursued in contradiction to one another. The overarching interest is of an economic nature, given the large reserves of natural resources (particularly gas and oil) and due to the size of the CIS market of 277 million consumers. Security and immigration issues also rank high on the list, whereas EU countries are less concerned with democratisation trends in the CIS. Russia is the most important CIS partner for a majority of EU countries. Energy plays a disproportionally high role in EU member states (MS) - Russia relations and is also a strong determinant of the overall heterogeneity of EU MS policies towards Russia. The type of bilateral relations which the EU MS maintain with one sub-region of the CIS (particularly the EENP, but increasingly also Central Asia) also affects their relations with Russia. Cultural closeness and a common history still play a large part in the development of bilateral relations. The accession to the EU of Central and Eastern European states has altered the existing relations between them and their eastern CIS neighbours, thereby also modifying their interests in the region. Regrettably, the EU's policies towards Russia and the EENP region have not yet been able to provide a playing field able to compensate for this alteration.

Thus, the present report studies the various interests (political, security, economic, cultural) which underpin relations between the EU member states and the CIS countries and also discusses the latest developments in EU policies towards a specific CIS sub-region (Russia, the Eastern ENP and Central Asia), thereby providing a broad picture of the type of interests, how they are pursued by the EU member states and where these intersect or clash.