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Central and Eastern European Perceptions of the Eurasian Economic Union: between Economic Opportunities and Fear of Renewed Russian Hegemony

Fabienne Bossuyt

This paper examines how the Central and Eastern European member states (CEECs) of the European Union (EU) perceive the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). In addition, it explores whether and to what extent the CEECs try to influence the EU's position on the EAEU and thus to what extent they try to project their views regarding the EAEU onto the EU level. In doing so, the paper starts from the assumption that EU member states will seek to project or 'upload' certain national foreign policies objectives onto the EU level because of the possible 'amplifying' effect. Bottom-up Europeanization in the area of foreign policy may enable member states to pursue foreign policy objectives with regard to specific themes beyond those attainable with domestic capabilities. Methodologically, the paper relies on data gathered through document analysis of official documents from the EU and from CEECs' governments and semi-structured interviews with EU and national officials.The paper finds that the CEECs' perceptions of the EAEU vary strongly, with Hungary and Bulgaria being very supportive of the EAEU while Poland, Romania and the Baltics are very sceptical of Russia's intentions behind the EAEU and do not want any rapprochement with the EAEU. Slovakia and the Czech Republic are also sceptical of Russia's political intentions, but they are in favour of economic cooperation with the EAEU. Also the extent to which the CEECs pursue their position regarding the EAEU at the EU level varies, with Poland, Lithuania and Hungary being most active at the EU level while the others favour the bilateral channel.

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