Centre for Euro-Asian Studies - Projects
Research agenda and policy challenges
Four themes, successively, have provided a focus for the intellectual work of the Centre:
The specifics of transition in Euro-Asia, and the emergence of new economies in the region. By 1996, a broad literature was developing on the transition in Eastern Europe, and the transformation in Russia triggered wide policy debate. But some key transition issues were underserved by the academic and policy communities - including challenges in the Caspian and Central Asian economies. Some countries in this region, for example, had to implement transition in setting that frequently involved landlocked economies, energy exploitation, and diversification challenges. These regional features provided one key focus for the Centre's early research and publications. "The new national economy: the learning curve," part of a 1998 book on Kazakhstan (the first English language study of the economy), is a title that says it all.
Post-transition challenges. By the end of the 1990s, as activities at the Centre expanded, the transition recession was bottoming out, amid shocks from the Russian crisis. It was time to start looking beyond debates about stabilization, liberalization and privatization. The region's evolving international linkages and strategies for economic development deserved more forward-looking analysis. Published in 2000, "The Euro-Asian World: a period of Transition" analysed the politics of security, the new Great Game, and the geopolitics of Caspian energy.In the years since then, debate in the West has confirmed these dimensions of Euro-Asia as critically relevant for the global economy.
Energy security and renewable energy. At the turn of the millennium, Europe's energy dependence on the North Sea and Russia was steadily increasing. But with energy prices low, and pipeline price wars undreamed of, energy security and diversification had slipped low on the EU agenda. Caspian oil and gas were barely on the perimeter of policy attention. In 2001 a series of studies - published by the Centre as "Energy in the Caspian Region: Present and Future" - evaluated the future energy contribution of the region. Building on this theme, the Centre organised a panel at the in 2005American Economic Association Meetings, bringing together experts from Australia, Belgium, the United Kingdom and the United States to review key challenges in energy development and to assess the EU's relations with the region (papers subsequently published as a Symposium in Economic Systems).
Lifting the "natural resource curse." Energy endowment has downside risks, which include rent-seeking behaviour, instability caused by price fluctuations, and the possibility that "Dutch Disease" may hollow out the economy. A 2005 conference on "Hydrocarbon Wealth and Development in Resource Rich Economies" explored these topics, which are increasingly relevant in today's high energy price environment. Recently, National Oil Funds have also gained attention as an instrument to address some of these challenges by buffering the economy from shocks and by saving for the future. Research in the Centre, published in Comparative Economics, has focused on the role of these funds in the region - highlighting the question whether they enhance transparency and enrol constituencies for prudent policies.
From an academic perspective, these four issues have been among the driving forces for work at the Centre over the past decade - reflected in the series of publications in its Euro-Asian Studies series with Palgrave Press.
But the Centre's mission has been broader than this research agenda. A key goal from the outset has been to make connections across the academic community in different countries, and with policy-makers in government and industry. These facets, too, are an important dimension of its history.
Academic outreach: the places, the people
An early decision was to seek a number of students from the Euro-Asian region - including notably Central Asia and the Caspian area - and to engage an academic dialogue with institutions in those and other transition economies. Students at the Centre have come from 10 countries, including Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Germany, Ukraine. They have in some cases benefited from sponsoring that the centre has put in place on a country basis.
Over time, a network of Country Representatives has also been built up to strengthen continuing links. This network now covers ten transition economies - from Lithuania to Kyrgyzstan - as well as France, Korea, Turkey and Switzerland.
Members of the Centre, meanwhile, are actively engaged in research on the region, with many projects being inter-disciplinary and collaborative. Memberships and Visiting Fellowships have provided links to academic institutions in the UK as well as Australia, Kazakhstan, Russia and the United States.
During the past decade, members of other academic institutions have come to discuss current issues with students at the Centre, including at its weekly inter-disciplinary seminars. Recent academic and research institute speakers have come from the universities of Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Southampton as well as the CEPR and the Kiel Institute for World Economics. These events are typically open to other students at the university.
Networking with government and industry
While the prime focus of the Centre has been academic, it has from the outset sought to build up a dialogue with government and industry. This has been achieved through conferences, workshops, industrial visits by students, and consultancy in the region.
Among the flagship events that attracted industry participation were a series of conferences on "Caspian Region: Present and Future" that the Centre organised in the Spring of 2003. Three themes were selected to spark discussion between industry experts, government and academia: Local Content, Sustainable Development and Social Issues, and Renewable Energy. Industry experts from Amec Upstream Oil and Gas, BG Group, Chevron Texaco, PFC Energy, Shell E&P International and Statoil debated these issues with speakers from a range of interested parties that included Cambridge Energy Research Associates, Fitch Ratings, the EBRD and Human Rights Watch as well as government and academic speakers.
Similarly, in June 2005, the Hydrocarbon Wealth conference brought to the Madjeski Theatre of the university private sector speakers from Burren Energy, Foster Wheeler Energy, Shell International E&P, BP Gas and Power and Wood Mackenzie, alongside the Ambassadors of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan and experts from the FCO, EBRD, World Bank and UNECE, as well as academics.
The Centre's links to the private sector have allowed it benefit from generous funding of academic work and conferences, and scholarships to help cover the costs of students from the region coming to study in Reading. British Gas, Burren Energy, Chase Manhattan Bank, Rothschild and Son and the Soros Foundation have been among the sponsors of activities organised by the Centre. Projects have been sponsored also by the Department for International Development, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank.
Members of the Centre have also been contributors at international conferences and workshops organised by inter-governmental organisations that include the United Nations, the IMF, the World Bank and the European Commission. They have been actively engaged in research and consultancy with organisations such as the Energy Charter Secretariat and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
In turn, seminars at the Centre by officials and private sector speakers have exposed students to the latest developments in policy and business thinking on subjects that ranged from "The Foreign Policy Dynamic and Energy Security" to "Russian Capitalism: Is It Unique?"
A new development in links with the UK Government took place in 2006, when the Centre was selected to organise a three-month pilot scheme on the Economics of Energy issues for members of the Chevening Fellowship Programme. This brought to Reading civil servants, academics and private sector specialists from Angola, Georgia, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, South Korea, Syria and Turkey. The Fellows participated in a series of lectures, case studies and visits to enrich their understanding of theoretical and practical developments in the field, had company experience with Shell International.
-  Kalyuzhnova, Y. 1998. The Kazakhstani economy: independence and transition. Macmillan Press. Basingstoke.
-  Kalyuzhnova Y. and Lynch D. ed.2000. The Euro-Asian World: A Period of Transition. Macmillan Publishing.
-  Symposium "EU - Central Asia: Economic Partnership" March 2005, Economic Systems, Volume 29, Issue1.