Future of the Eurasian Economic Union

19.05.2017

One of the most interesting features of the Eurasian Economic Union is that some time after accession to it the public of the member country begins to complain, groan and resent with the general refrain "Well, we did not want this!". As a rule, everyone expects an instant and easy profit from participation in the EAEU. Someone may say that this is just a bad example of the European Union, where there were considerable subsidies for new members from Eastern Europe, and therefore people are waiting for the same approach. But, in my opinion, the problem is a bit deeper and lies in mass illusions of the population:

1. "The pensioner's syndrome" or "Soviet-centricity." These are representatives of the older generation who still remember the USSR and perceive any union in the post-Soviet space precisely through this prism. And here there are two opposing moods - "Let's unite and make a new USSR", and "In any case we must not unite with them, otherwise the USSR will appear again." Due to the structure of society this is the most visible and active segment of the population.

2. "Solipsist syndrome". These are middle-aged and older people who somehow think that only their needs and interests matter without taking into account the signed contracts and agreements. The main thing is not what was signed, but what they see and what they want. If it does not fit to their wishes, then there is a big explosion of negative emotions.

3.  "Bride-to-be syndrome". These are the youngest people who already lived under independence and received a full portion of propaganda about the fact that their country has huge advantages and resources, which means that everyone wants to cooperate with it. When it turns out that this is not true, and there are no flows of investments and foreigners wishing to buy local products, people are becoming very upset.

Of course, besides this, there is a legitimate disappointment with the work of the EAEU, because some of its members are still not fulfilling their obligations, being under the influence of the internal lobbies of oligarchs and the quasi-public sector, for quite objective reasons. True, these sentiments are spread mostly among businessmen and do not become the matter of public discussions - only in some business media, and not all of them write about this.

In fact, we can honestly say that most of the population, and even the political elite, are not ready for real policy of building up an integration structure. That is, it is necessary to change not only the legislation, but also our own political culture, which must include the ability to find compromises, work for the future and respect the signed agreements.

The latter is especially bad - if we take the 2016 report, titled "Barriers, Exemptions and Restrictions of the EAEU", written by the Eurasian Economic Commission, we can see, that the agreements are not observed. In total there are 9 barriers, 34 restrictions and 17 exemptions.

However, there is also a reason for optimism - this list is much smaller than it was a few years ago. Nevertheless, the work is proceeding and gradually the center of power moves to the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), which is the international governing body. 

Also positive factor is the growth of the number of joint ventures, mutual investments, the growth of the currencies exchanges and, respectively, the trade between individuals, the expansion and cost reductions of logistics routes, the participation of foreigners from EAEU in public procurements, as well as the facilitation of movements and work of citizens.

It can be noted, that on the basis of the same list of barriers and limitations, the integration does not yet go well in the areas of very big business, which often has the character of monopoly or dominance in the market. And it goes well in the sphere of both small and medium businesses, between the population itself. This is not often clearly seen, because the media basically belong to that very big business, or to the state, which signifies they are not very good means to provide widespread information.

I think that in 3-4 years we cannot ignorе the small and medium business integration, and therefore everyone will understand that the integration processes must be taken seriously. It will concern both large corporations who really want to create alliances, and the population, which will begin to teach children to such disciplines as the "Eurasian law" and the "Eurasian relations".

In the current configuration, at least Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus cannot escape from each other – the geography does not allow this. And geography is a very strong factor, even in the era of aircraft and Internet.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

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