Why we should build a common space fom Lisbon to Vladivostok (L2V)?

_ Evgeny Ilyin, PhD. MGIMO (University). Moscow, 15 December 2015.

First of all we have to determine, what a common space fom Lisbon to Vladivostok (L2V) means. We need to avoid ideological declarations and fill the term “L2V” with concrete content.

What is L2V? It is a territory, which includes all European states and the states of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). It is the united market from Lisbon to Vladivostok, where ther are no barriers, where we have common and clear to all rules.

L2V is a territory of the “four freedoms”, where you can take a train in Moscow and get out of the train in Madrid without any controls. Where you can have a Russian diploma and continue to work and to learn in any other European country. L2V is a space of free human interaction in all spheres.

This is an idyllic picture and a far perspective, but the diffculty of this cause should not the reason not to try to reach it. It is worthwhile because it gives some obvious advantages to Russia, Eurasia and Europe.

Security

The EU was created as an answer to the horrible consequences of World War II. The EU is a system, where bloody conflicts between member-states are impossible – the goal to build such system was achieved whithin the EU.

If we imagine a common security space between the EU and the EAEU, we will see that the local conflicts in Eurasia, such as Transnistria, Donbass, Abkhazia, South Osetia and Nagorny Karabakh should be solved as an incrimental part of this concept. The idea of shaping a common security space will stimulate European and Eurasian leaders to influence the conflicting sides in order to achieve peace in the long-term perspective. It is important to underline that Europe used to face similar problems, such a Elsas-Lotharingia, Ireland, Gibraltar and others. In the EU a compromise was found. If it was possible to solve these conflicts in the EU, we have ground to hope, that inside the EAEU and beyond – the L2V common space – such settlements are also possible.

The EU and the EAEU have many common threats that they need to handle together: terrorism, organized crime, drug, arms and human trafficing. If the EU and the EAEU would consolidate against these challenges, the security in the wider Euro-Eurasian region would increase considerably.

Economy

The countries of the EU and EAEU are economically interdependent. Three quarters of Russia’s foreign direct investment, technologies and high-tech come from the EU. Russia for the EU is an irreplaceable energy supplier. Russia is aiming to augment its investment climat. This would give the chance to modernize the Russian economy faster, increase the efficacy of logistic routs, the productivity of labor and boost the economic growth in general.European companies are interested in the EAEU’ market of 180 mln consumers. Transparent and liberal economic relations within the region would stimulate economic growth for all participants involved.

Good neighbors

“Competition of integrations” as shown by the EU – EaP – EAEU (love) triangle should be replace by a concept for “integration of integrations”. The CIS countries of Western Eurasia should not have to choose between the EU and EAEU – a single L2V space would be the option out. The idea of a common space of freedom, justice, security and prosperity would make it easier to find mutual understanding, because a new sense of a common destiny would appear. No clashes, only compromise.

Confrontation between the EU and the EAEU is a way of conflicts, stagnation and destabilization. It is a loose – loose situation and zero-sum game.

Cooperation between the EU and the EAEU is the way of compromise, common security, mutual understanding and economic growth. This is the win – win option. However, for startets, we would need to rethink each other’s relations and to rebuild trust.

Moscow and Brussels

So, there are obvious pragmatic reasons to build a common space from Lisbon to Vladivostok. However, in Moscow and Brussels views on this process differ significantly

Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2011 emphasized, that the EAEU is an integration project similar to and complementing the EU. The EAEU is based on the European experience, European standards and WTO rules. Putin, Medvedev and Lavrov noted many times that the EAEU is not a competitor, but an equal partner to the EU. The position of the Russian side is clear – the two integration projects shoild to work together and step-by-step integrate into a Greater Eurasian space.

The position of Brussels is more complicated. There exist two different views on the place of the EU in the world and on its Eastern policy. The first is Continentalism. Such an approach is typical for France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Finland. The second is Transatlanticim, which typical for Great Britain, Poland, Sweden and the Baltic states. The first see the EU as an independent center of power. They use principals of pragmatism and mutual benefit in relations with Russia. The second welcome the hegemonic role of the USA and NATO in Europe and support an aggressive “export of democracy” to the East. The Continentalists are ready to cooperate with the EAEU on the ground of mutual benefit. The Transatlanticist believe, that the EU should not recognize the EAEU – as a pressure instrument on Russia.

In this regard, Russia and its Eurasian partners should work out a flexible approach towards it European partners. They should promote dialog with those leaders of the EU that hold a continentalist point of view and are ready for deepened cooperation. Such cooperation should be prmoted on all levels – from bottom to top. Deeping of economic interaction is very important. Business is far less politicized and is aimed at mutually beneficial relations. Further integration within the EAEU is another priority. If the Eurasian Economic Union will be successful, sooner or later, it will be recognized by the whole world. If we succeed to settle regional conflicts along the common neighborhood with the EU, the L2V project will succeed.

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