The countries of the Eastern Partnership, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, can get significant economic gains from international cooperation, either in the form of the EU's Association Agreements, or the Russia-led Customs Union. But since the terms and conditions of the EU Agreements and the Customs Union are not compatible, there could be no gains from joining either alliance without some imminent losses. Moreover, solutions, which work for one country, may not work for others, as their preconditions vary. Economic effects from joining either union matter for the Eastern Partnership countries not less than any mere political reasons. While choosing a side, each country has to take into account a bunch of domestic factors and anticipate all potential consequences, concerning international trade, foreign investment, and energy policy.
Irina Mirkina is a visiting research fellow at the School of Economics and Management at Lund University (Sweden) and has been a lecturer at the All-Russian State Distance Institute of Finance and Economics and at the Altai Institute of Financial Administration (Russia).