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Legal Approximation as a Modernization Tool and the Level-of-Analysis Problem in the EU-Russia Relations

Tatiana Romanova

Legal approximation has been present in EU-Russian relations since their inception. Initially it was conceived as a tool for the reform of Russia and for its europeanisation through the export of the acquis communutaire. Following Russia's disillusionment in the West / Europe, the process of legal approximation was virtually forgotten. The paper argues, however, that it can be instrumental in present EU-Russian relations, inter alia for constructing a new quality of political relations and for deeper economic cooperation, which became possible following Russia's accession to the WTO. Moreover, as cooperation and density of legal approximation grows, various modernization visions can be reconciled.In my view to be constructive, the process of legal approximation should be approached through the lenses of the level-of-analysis problem. The later has always permeated EU-Russia relations but has been approached in either a structural or an institutional way. The first one is about making the difference among the EU's, member states' and subnational levels; while the second identifies the intricacies of international, transgovernmental and transnational levels. While these approaches to the level-of-analysis problem shed some light on the specificity of EU-Russian relations, this contribution suggests a new, thematic, approach, which differentiates among long-term visionary goals, policy-specofic goals and implementation instruments. Following the presentation of this approach to the level-of-analysis problem, we explain how it can be the basis for a constructive strategy of legal approximation, what the relative importance of each level is, and how they reciprocally influence each other.

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