Challenges and opportunities for the “integration of integrations” of the EU and EAEU – Round table in Minsk

On November 15, 2017 at the Faculty of Economics of the Belarusian State University a round table was held on: “Integration of Integrations: EU and EAEU”, organized by the Eurasian Partnership, together with the Belarusian State University, the analytical portal “Eurasian Studies” and IIASA. The round table focused on the challenges and opportunities for the creation of a common economic from Lisbon to Vladivostok.

The speakers were: Mikhail Kovalev, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Professor, Dean of the Faculty of Economics, BSU; Michael Emerson, Senior Research Fellow, CEPS and IIASA; Yuri Kofner, Editor-in-Chief of the analytical portal “Eurasian Studies” and IIASA research assistant; Valentin Starichenok, Associate Professor of the Department of the History of Ancient Civilizations and Middle Ages of the Belarusian State Pedagogical University, Candidate of Historical Sciences; Kirill Laikov, junior researcher at the Center for the History of Geopolitics of the Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus; Alexey Toma, Deputy Chairman of the Eurasian Partnership

The event was opened by the dean of the Faculty of Economics, BSU professor Mikhail Kovalev, who told the participants about the project of the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko – “Integration of Integrations”.

At the roundtable the foreign guests Yuri Kofner and Michael Emerson presented the research project of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) “Challenges and Opportunities of Economic Integration within the Wider European and Eurasian Space”. This study is supported by the Eurasian Development Bank and the Eurasian Economic Commission with the participation of the European Commission.

Yuri Kofner told the Belarusian students about the prospects for the creation of a common economic space between the EU and the EAEU: “The European Union is the main trading partner for the EAEU. And this is the main reason for creating a common economic space between them. On the other hand, since 2016, the EAEU began to reorient to East Asia in connection with the introduction of sanctions by the European Union. How can there be an agreement between the EAEU and the EU under current conditions? In the futute, however, we believe that  this could be an asymmetric free trade agreement with significant transitional periods, supplemented by bilateral agreements between the EU and the EAEU member state in those areas where Eurasian Economic Commission does not yet have comprehensive competencies, for example in the field of intellectual property regulation”.

The Belarusian experts Valentin Starichyonok and Kirill Laikov gfave reports on “EU – EAEU in  the Belarusian public opinion” and “Integration of integrations as a project of cooperation between the EAEU and the EU”, showing other participants the Belarusian perspective on the prospects of the common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok.

At the conclusion of the event, someone from the audience raised the questuon about the prospects of the Belarussian chairmanship in the EAEU in 2020. The Belarusian expert Alexei Toma in his answer substantiated the need to interlink the integration projects of the Greater Eurasian space and expressed hope that in this process the Republic of Belarus can act as the central link and the negotiation platform: “Our Republic, as a founging  member of the Eurasian Union, is actively participating in the Eastern Partnership with the European Union, and has also reached a level of strategic partnership with China. In the international arena, Belarus is recognized as a peace-loving country that can help solve many regional and international problems, in particular, the Ukrainian crisis. The advantage of our republic is also its favorable geopolitical situation, that can be an open window for EU, China and our allies in the Eurasian Union. In 2020 the Republic of Belarus will chair the Eurasian Economic Union. On our part, we can offer good projects to our Western and Eastern partners for a mutually beneficial cooperation between the EAEU, EU, the Middle East and East Asia”.

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