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EDB Integration Barometer - 2015

16 October 2015

The fourth wave of public opinion surveys on integration preferences in the CIS countries suggests that the "integration core" of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) continues to consolidate. In Kazakhstan, Russia and the Kyrgyz Republic 78-86% of the population support the Eurasian integration. At the same time, in Belarus and Armenia the rate of approval of Eurasian integration reduced in the recent year. These are the findings of The EDB Integration Barometer, a yearly research conducted by Eurasian Development Bank's (EDB) Centre for Integration Studies. In 2015, over 11,000 people from nine CIS region countries - Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, and Ukraine - took part in the poll. The research has been conducted by the EDB Centre for Integration Studies since 2012 annually in partnership with “Eurasian Monitor”, an international research agency.

Kyrgyzstan registered the highest level of public support for Eurasian economic integration, setting a four-year high after increasing from 50% of the population in 2014 to 86% in 2015 (in 2012 and 2013, the figures were 67% and 72%, respectively).

Among countries that do not yet belong to the EAEU, the greatest indicators of public support for the prospect of joining the union were exhibited by Tajikistan (72%), whose population is predominantly oriented toward economic cooperation with countries in the CIS region, chiefly Russia. This fact indicates the expediency and demand for further strategic development of EAEU’s integrated cooperation with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan where, in 2014, 68% of the population wanted to see their country in the EAEU.

In 2015, Moldova experienced some growth in the percentage of its citizens who would like to see their country in the EAEU—from 49% in 2014 to 53% in 2015—as well as a slight reduction in the share of those who oppose or are indifferent to that possibility.

In Ukraine, support for the prospect of joining the EAEU fell by one-third last year and stood at just 19% in 2015 (with 60% negative responses). Although not as sharp, a statistically significant drop was recorded in Georgia: the share in favour of a hypothetical accession into the EAEU declined from 53% in 2014 to 41% in 2015, while the percentage of those opposed climbed from 23% in 2014 to 34% in 2015.

As part of the 2015 survey, the populations of four EAEU member states were asked about their attitudes toward the creation of several common institutions under the EAEU: a common currency, common laws, a common army, and a common regulatory body.An analysis shows that citizens in all four EAEU member states lack a unified position regarding the need for the indicated common institutions: opposing opinions were split nearly evenly. The sole exception was the attitude toward a common army in Belarus and Russia: the majority of the population responded negatively (57% in Belarus and 53% in the Russian Federation). Armenia also stands out, where most citizens favoured a single currency, but here, too, the majority, comprising 55%, was not dominant.

The distance between the preference vectors in countries of the post-Soviet space for any particular investor country is not so significant: the countries of the “CIS region,” European Union, and the “rest of the world” were on average mentioned approximately equally—by 43%, 43%, and 47% of respondents, respectively.

As with other questions concerning economic integration preferences, the populations of Tajikistan and Kazakhstan are predominately oriented toward capital inflow from the countries of the CIS region. The residents of Kyrgyzstan share the orientation in this area. As in the surveys of 2012–2014,among countries of the CIS region the leading position as a source of foreign capital are held by Russia, which is preferred by the residents of all countries in the post-Soviet space (mentioned by an average of 37% of respondents), except Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova. In Ukraine this year there has been a major collapse in Russia’s attractiveness as a source of foreign capital: for the first time in four years, this indicator sank to 9% (in 2013 and 2014 the figures were 27% and 21%, respectively).

An influx of investments from China is preferred by roughly one-third of the residents of Belarus (37%) and Russia (32%).

Countries outside the EU and the CIS region remain the leading partner countries for scientific and technological cooperation—the “Other countries” cluster was mentioned by half of respondents on average (53%). Second place was taken by European Union countries (44%), with Countries of the CIS region (40%) lagging significantly behind. This bias is the result of a large number of mentions of countries with innovative economies: Japan, the United States, and China.

The results of the fourth wave have confirmed the long-recognized age differentiation of the populations’ integration orientations. The young people of nearly every CIS country are noticeably less likely than the adult population to choose the Eurasian vector in their economic and cultural preferences. The cross-generational gap is especially large in the European CIS countries (Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine). Also an analysis of the data reveals that in large countries (such as Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine) there is a domestic territorial differentiation of the population’s integration sentiments.

All the information about methodology and results of the research is available in analytical summary and full Russian version of the report.

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