Experts began to develop a theory of Eurasian integration

On May 29, 2018 at the Higher School of Economics at the Faculty of World Economy and World Politics the international scientific and practical conference “Theory of Eurasian Integration” was held. The event was organized by the OECD-HSE Center with the support of the analytical portal “Eurasian Studies”.

The event was dedicated to the “Day of Eurasian Integration”. Exactly four years ago, on May 29, 2014, in Astana, the Presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia signed the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Nursultan Nazarbayev, who hosted the distinguished guests, proposed to declare this day a Union-wide holiday.

Relevant policy-makers, researchers and business representatives from several countries took part in the event:  Tatyana Meshkova, PhD in Political Sciences, Director of the OECD-HSE Center; Yulia Chalaya, PhD in Economics, Assistant to the Chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission; Elena Alekseenkova, PhD in Political Science, RIAC Program Manager, Research Fellow at Centre for Global Problems Studies, MGIMO-University; Vladimir Pereboyev, PhD in Political Sciencens, Research Fellow, Eurasian Development Bank Centre for Integration Studies; Marina Lapenko, PhD in History, Director, “Eurasia – Volga Region” Analytical Expert Club; Maxim Karlyuk, research fellow, Institute of Law and Development, Higher School of Economics – Skolkovo; Kirill Entin, PhD in Law, research associate, CCEIS, Higher School of Economics, councilor of the Judge of the Court of the Eurasian Economic Union (Minsk);  Radmila Kurbangulyova, Executive Director, LLC “TD Eurasia”;  Elia Bescotti, research assistant, NGO “Experts of the European Union” (Brussels);  Yuri Kofner,  editor-in-chief, “Eurasian Studies”; Anna Renard-Koktysh, graduate student, Moscow State Institute of International Relations; Min Koel Kim, graduate student; Moscow State Institute of International Relations; Yan Kalish, analyst, media “Eurasian Studies”;  Savva Bobylev,  PJSC “Rosseti”; Pavel Dyatlenko, PhD in Historical Sciences, associate professor, Department of History and Culturology, Kyrgyz-Russian (Slavonic) University (Bishkek);  Alexei Toma, PhD in Political Sciences, deputy head, NGO “Eurasian Partnership” (Minsk).

During the panel session, the RIAC textbook “EAEU: a space of economic integration” under the authorship of Marina Lapenko was officialy presented for the first time. And during one of the roundtables the results of the working paper of the analytical media “Eurasian Studies” on the topic “Eurasian Economic Union: Cultural and Historical Basis of Eurasian Integration and Economic Benefits for Member States” were  presented.

During the conference, the participants agreed that it is too early yet to distinguish a “theory of Eurasian integration” in its own right. At this stage it will be more effective to use tools of different European and international schools of integration theory to study the processes of Eurasian integration. It was determined that the closest and most suitable schools for this would be: cooperative hegemony; consolidating regionalism; liberal intergovermentalism and neofunctionalism.

The legal experts came to the conclusion that, in a narrow sense, it is fair to speak that  the Eurasian Economic Unio has its own “acquis communitaire”. However, one can not say that in a broader sense of the term, since it is yet too early to speak of a totally independent and self-reproducing body of supranational Eurasian law.

At the same time, all participants noted a number of peculiar features that are distinct only to the integration processes in the post-Soviet space: the re-integration character, the dependence of the success of integration on personal beliefs and interests of the elites of the post-Soviet countries, the need to consider the integration of the EAEU in the context of integration in a “Greater Eurasian” space.

The experts noted the problem of ambiguous interpretation of such terms as “Eurasia”, “Eurasian” and “Eurasianism”, which complicates the development of a distinct integration theory, applicable to the Eurasian space.

Throughout the conference, there was a scientific debate about what is more important for ensuring integration in general, and for Eurasian integration in particular: the existence of common values (including a common history and culture) or the existence of common interests?

Several practical recommendations were made: Firstly, the creation of more integration institutions in Eurasia is called for. In the EAEU there are only 5, whereas in the EU there are 14. Seconly the Eurasian intagration bodies should be better staffed, better funded and be given more compentencies. The argument was, that only such supranational bodies develop new young and resourceful cadres that have Union-wide mindset.

The participants also considered it necessary to add cooperation in the field of science and education to the agenda of the EAEU, as these spheres qualitatively complement and increase the positive effects of purely economic integration.

Informing citizens about the essence, goals and achievements of the Eurasian Union was assessed by the participants as one of the most important, and at the same time, most underdeveloped areas of work of the Eurasian Economic Commission. In the short term, the publication of short booklets and the development of a YouTube channel were proposed. In the medium term it will be important to create a Eurasian television channel, following the example of “Euronews”.

The participants in the scientific discussion were sure that after some time a distinct theory of Eurasian integration will come into place that will be  applicable to the analysis and goal-setting of еру integration processes in Eurasia. But, for this it is necessary to further develop the expert dialogue between the member states of the EAEU.

The conference was held as part of the research project “Analysis of Prospective Directions for the Development of Eurasian Integration Taking into Account the Strategic Challenges of the Social and Economic Development of the Russian Federation and the Challenges of the Russian Chairmanship in the EAEU in 2018”, which is being carried out by the Higher School of Economics at the request of the Government of the Russian Federation. The results of the scientific discussion will be submitted to the Government of Russia in the form of analytical materials and will be published in a separate printed working paper.

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