The Union with Prospects: What the future holds for the EAEU

Now the Eurasian Economic Union can take the best from the European Union, but it will take many years to catch up with the EU, political experts say. After all, the European Union itself has also gained strength in almost 30 years.

The Union with Prospects: What the future holds for the EAEU

The coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing economic crisis hit the European Union hard. There are great doubts about the real unity of Europe, and European Commissioner for Economics Paolo Gentiloni said that due to the coronavirus, EU GDP will fall by a record 7.4% in 2020.

According to the European Commissioner, Europe is experiencing an economic shock, which has not happened since the Great Depression.

Against this background, another union, the Eurasian Economic (EAEU), demonstrates the expansion of borders. On May 11, Tashkent will consider the issue of cooperation between Uzbekistan and the EAEU.

It is also planned that the heads of the EAEU countries will hold a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council on May 19, during which they will approve the draft strategic directions for the development of Eurasian integration until 2025. The meeting should be held in Minsk.

The Eurasian Economic Union is an international integration economic association, functioning since January 1, 2015. Members of the union: Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. In 2020, Belarus chaired the EAEU bodies.

What are the prospects for the EAEU and other unions in which Russia is participating, political experts told the publication Ukraina.ru.

Economics – yes, but carefully with politics

You should not directly compare the European Union and the Eurasian Union, because the structure of its member countries is somewhat different, said Vladimir Zharikhin, deputy director of the Institute of CIS Countries.

At the peak of the European Union, it includes countries that have formed over many centuries. And the EAEU is made up of young post-Soviet states, which still have not decided on the scope of powers that they are ready to delegate to the common political space of integration associations.

“That is, they value their sovereignty very much and have not decided for themselves which part of it can be delegated, especially in the political field. Therefore, even the countries most interested in integration, such as Kazakhstan and Belarus, as soon as it comes to the minimum elements of political integration, they talk only about economic integration, ” Zharikhin said.

At the same time, such a purely economic integration is possible, but to a certain limit, otherwise it will be impossible to create the same single currency, the political scientist emphasizes.

“We need elements of political integration, albeit with limited powers, as in the European Union. There is the European Parliament, there is the Council of Ministers, there are EU leaders with certain powers. Yes, they are criticized, but they are, ” said the expert.

He is convinced that someday the Eurasian Union will become an analogue of the European Union, but not immediately: “The European Union also did not immediately become the European Union, this process lasted more than 30 years, when it turned from the coal and steel union through the common market into the European Union, which we consider it as a sample. “

“Crisis is a good test for the EAEU”

There is no reason to compare the EU and the EAEU for a number of reasons, says Eduard Poletaev, head of the Eurasia World Public Fund (Kazakhstan).

“The EAEU countries have already been so close in alliance that it is impossible to conceive more closely. I mean the Soviet Union. The EAEU is not that it is returning to the past, it takes upon itself the best practices of the European Union, ” the expert emphasized.

And the Georgian political scientist, the founder of the SIKHA foundation, Archil Sikharulidze, is sure that the problem of the EAEU is “that he claims to be economic, but often the political interests of all parties are at the center.”

According to him, this is understood in the West: “it is obvious that European colleagues see that Moscow and the corresponding countries are trying to create something like the European Union.

“And they, by the way, often point out to the members of this organization that the European Union was created primarily for the sake of economic profit – as an association of states for the sake of deep cooperation between economies.

As for the Eurasian Union, yes, there are steps, norms are adopted there, but politics often lies behind all this, the interests of people who want to use this organization for their own purposes, ” Sikharulidze said.

The current “crisis situation”, he added, is a good test for the countries included in the EAEU: “because if, for example, some countries express their dissatisfaction or are not ready for cooperation, it will become obvious whether this association was an economic market for them or just politically motivated things. ”

Russia and unions: continue or refuse?

Now in Russian society there are different opinions about whether Russia should support the unions in which it acts as the main donor: the EAEU, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

Vladimir Zharikhin notes that, of course, money must be considered, gifts are not necessary. But it is necessary to create a situation so that there are mutual gifts. In his opinion, Russia pursues a lot of its interests precisely through interaction with post-Soviet states through these organizations.

“Thanks to the CSTO, we have our own bases in Central Asia. We have our bases in Armenia, the CSTO member country, which ensures our interests in this region. But free gifts, based on what they thank, should not be done either. It is necessary to discuss mutual interests. We are gradually learning this, ” said the political scientist.

Russia should support these formats (CIS, SCO, CSTO) – it would be foolish not to do this, I am sure Archil Sikharulidze. He emphasizes that it is economically profitable, but it is necessary to have a clear understanding of what the Russian state expects from all this.

“In this case, it is obvious that in the Eurasian Economic Union, Russia is trying to use the economic dependence of other states on itself to hold them back. Well, let’s say Kazakhstan doesn’t go anywhere much, but in the case of Armenia, for example, there are fears that other superpowers may have their influence, ” the political scientist said.

Can Ukraine and Georgia join the EAEU

In the foreseeable future, Ukraine is unlikely to join the EAEU, says Vladimir Zharikhin.

“We will speak directly. The political and economic elite of the country (the word “elite” is not a quality mark, but simply a sign of a certain presence in power) is not interested in this, ” the expert said.

At the same time, the farther, the less so, Ukraine will be economically interesting to Russia, he adds: “we have cheap labor from Central Asia (and Ukraine as well), and something else in Ukraine is gradually disappearing, deindustrialization is in full swing. ”

“There is practically no space industry, shipbuilding or engine production (the same Motor Sich), too. In addition, it all starts to be done with us. Therefore, they are becoming less and less interesting to us from an economic point of view, ” Zharikhin emphasized.

The EAEU and Ukraine may have some bilateral contacts, but there will be no unification, predicts Eduard Poletaev: Ukraine will not want to enter into an alliance, because it considers it a purely Russian project.
According to the expert, the situation can change no earlier than a generation later.

Georgia and Ukraine, as post-Soviet republics, have gone from one extreme to another extreme, said Archil Sikharulidze. He explained that the Ukrainian intelligentsia, “which at one time was one of the most pro-communist, has become one of the most” pro-democratic, “as they call themselves, because for them to renounce everything Soviet is simply a holy thing.”

“I mean the elite, because most of the population does not feel any hatred for the Soviet past. But for political elites, even the post-Soviet space, not taking into account the East European countries – the Baltic states, Poland, is a direction in which they do not want to look.

Therefore, speaking of the EAEU, led by Russia, the metropolis, this is absolutely unacceptable for them, ” the political scientist said.

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