Comecon revisited. Integration in the Eastern Bloc and Entanglements with the Global Economy.
The article addresses the role of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA, 949– 99) in the creation and development of the transnational electric power grid “Mir” (Russian: Peace). This power grid was oicially established in 99 and connected the national electric networks of the socialist states of Eastern Europe by means of cross-border power lines. This transnational infrastructure was developed over the next decades and included nuclear, hydro, and thermal power plants. The planning and construction of cross-border energy infrastructures was one of the primary tasks of the CMEA. CMEA institutions, such as the Permanent Commission for Electric Energy, the Central Dispatch Organization, and the “Interatomenergo” were supposed to facilitate cooperation between participating CMEA countries. Following the political rapprochement between East and West Europe in the 970s, the idea of surmounting the iron curtain to create a European-wide system of electrical supply became the focus. Compared with other transnational systems of energy transmission for crude oil and natural gas, the Mir network had a relatively high degree of institutionalization. This coordination was essential for the smooth operation of the overall system. The disintegration of the Comecon in 99 impeded this cooperation and led to the rapid dissolution of the Mir power grid (compared to other transnational networks). This article analyses how this network worked and the actors involved. In doing so, it addresses a gap in research on the development of transnational electrical networks in the socialist Eastern Bloc.