The Signature of the Eurasian Union Treaty: A Difficult Birth, an Uncertain Future

16-07-2014

The smiles at the signing ceremony for Eurasian Union Treaty held on 29 May 2014 revealed little of the arduous negotiations that had led to the agreement – or of its uncertain future. Present in Astana were the presidents of the same three countries that had formed the Customs Union, in force since 2010: Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. The media offered pictures of the cheery trio joining hands, cementing the agreement that Russian President Vladimir Putin had strongly advocated. But the next steps will be difficult, not least because of the terms to be offered to Armenia and Kyrgyzstan – the two countries that have agreed to join the Customs Union and the Eurasian Union. Several economic and political issues, with important regional implications, will need to be solved before the ‘first enlargement’. The treaty’s provisions are vague about the Union’s real content and will also need to be clarified in the months ahead – preferably before the Eurasian Union enters into force, on 1 January 2015. Conceived in haste in response to Moscow’s pressure, the Union is experiencing a dilemma that its model, the European Union, has also faced: should the union deepen or enlarge? Or how can it cope if it chooses to do both?

The smiles at the signing ceremony for Eurasian Union Treaty held on 29 May 2014 revealed little of the arduous negotiations that had led to the agreement – or of its uncertain future. Present in Astana were the presidents of the same three countries that had formed the Customs Union, in force since 2010: Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. The media offered pictures of the cheery trio joining hands, cementing the agreement that Russian President Vladimir Putin had strongly advocated. But the next steps will be difficult, not least because of the terms to be offered to Armenia and Kyrgyzstan – the two countries that have agreed to join the Customs Union and the Eurasian Union. Several economic and political issues, with important regional implications, will need to be solved before the ‘first enlargement’. The treaty’s provisions are vague about the Union’s real content and will also need to be clarified in the months ahead – preferably before the Eurasian Union enters into force, on 1 January 2015. Conceived in haste in response to Moscow’s pressure, the Union is experiencing a dilemma that its model, the European Union, has also faced: should the union deepen or enlarge? Or how can it cope if it chooses to do both?