ЕurAsian Economic Union: New horizons

| May 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

fwqYYPnabjsBy Colin Stevens.  

The EurАsian Economic Union (EАU) is a new integration association – a phenomenon to be celebrated that reflects global trends. But recent political developments in the post-Soviet space are used by EАU opponents as an argument to undermine the Union’s image at home and internationally. Unwilling to admit the influences of the economic competition factor in international relations or relying on biased sources of information – in either case, the critics of EurАsian integration conclude with a picture of the EurAsian Union as a renewed version of the Soviet Union.

The perception leading to the rise of fears of loss of sovereignty of nation states to the Kremlin, results in the complete rejection of the EurАsian integration project by regular citizens. The idea of the resurrection of the USSR is exploited to take advantage of geopolitical competitors, using a spectrum of strategies for distortion as protest movements within the populations of the EАU.

“Today, regarding the EАU, some experts and politicians are scaring public opinion with a myth of the ‘reincarnation’ of the Soviet Union,” said the EAU’s major architect Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. “I believe that the arguments in this debate are far from being reality and are groundless. Today, the reintegration of the Soviet model simply has no institutional framework. All of that has definitely become history.”

President Nazarbayev’s statement is clearly denying the perspective of the revival of the USSR centralized model, underlining that the success of the Union in modern times is possible only between sovereign states. Driven by the profound need to unite efforts, many humanitarian, political and economic integration platforms have been launched: the Eurasian Development Bank and Eurasian Business Council, the Eurasian Media Forum and the Eurasian Association of Universities are among the most prominent.

A milestone of this process would be the signature of a treaty establishing the EurАsian Economic Union. A number of bilateral and trilateral meetings between the heads of state, held in the spring and regular meetings of the Supreme EurАsian Economic Council in Minsk suggest the determination of the leadership towards this goal.

The EurАsian integration proved to be beneficial as it increased trade between member states, lifted customs barriers, opened possibilities for the creation of joint ventures and co-operation in various fields of endeavour, which visibly contributed to employment and education. Also noteworthy is its beneficial influence on the integration process for the security situation.

Focusing on the economy, the EАU will assemble the resources of the total volume of the core member states, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, reaching $2.2 trillion US dollars with industrial production amounting to $1.5trl to obtain the integration effect of total GDP growth of $900 billion by 2030.

However, a great deal of work has to be done by all participants “to create the most advanced integration alliance in the post-Soviet space”, said Russian President Vladimir Putin, addressing the EАU issues. “The Customs Union we have created works and brings real benefits,” Putin continued. “We achieved the results in our economies. It is an obvious fact. But we can take another step, we agreed on this step to deepen our co-operation, to promote our co-operation to a higher level.”

As the EАU is a modern Union, divergences of positions are inevitable, this is an undisputable sign of respect for variable national interests. “We face a range of issues on which opinions differ,” said Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. “It was proposed to leave them unresolved and move on, but these issues needed to be resolved at a previous stage.”

Energy remains an ‘apple of discord’ with Belarus, as Russia and Kazakhstan have offered to move on towards a common energy market by 2025. This attitude is similar to the practices of the other unions to integrate along multiple tracks, such as the European Union, which is also experiencing the creation of an integrated energy market as one of its major challenges. These divergences confirm that the EАU is a completely new type of association, taking into account the interests of all partners, without Russian dominance as was the case previously.

Today, an official treaty on the creation of the EАU will allow a substantial improvement in the competitiveness and efficiency of the economies in a global world, attracting much-needed domestic and foreign investment. The parties expect that they will be able to reach a compromise agreement on the disputed aspects of the EurАsian Economic Union in the near future.

 

Colin Stevens

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