- Until recently regional integration in the post-Soviet space was largely declarative. But the Eurasian Customs Union (ECU), the latest initiative, appears more viable because of its better institutional framework, proven commitment to implementation and introduction of a system of rules harmonized with international norms and the WTO regime.
- This initiative, which offers a forward-looking, advanced form of economic integration, has serious implications for EU–Russian relations in general and the EU's strategy in the post-Soviet 'shared neighbourhood' in particular.
- Ukraine has turned into a normative battleground, with Russia trying to dissuade it from pursuing an Association Agreement with the EU containing the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area and to join the ECU instead.
- Faced with this challenge, the EU needs to revisit its 'external governance' approach to its eastern neighbourhood in terms of short- and long-term opportunities and challenges.