EAEU as a supranational regional integration organization: comparative analysis and recommendations

_ Petr Brusnitsyn, analyst, media portal “Eurasian Studies”. Moscow, August 23, 2018.

After several “integration false starts” from 1992 to 2000, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) became the first supranational international organization in the post-Soviet space. The EAEU is a relatively young economic bloc in comparison with other regional integration organizations (RIO) of the world.

Comparison of the EAEU solely with the achievements and problems of the European Union (EU), as well as only using tools of the European integration theories, hinders a more objective SWOT analysis of the Eurasian Economic Union. The study of the EAEU should be carried out taking into account the specifics of the region (historical, cultural, political, economic, etc.), and also should be done in comparison with other RIO, such as MERCOSUR, ASEAN, NAFTA, etc.

Research by the Moscow-based Higher School of Economics has shown that more suitable tools for the theoretical understanding of the processes of modern Eurasian integration are the schools of: cooperative hegemony, holding-together integration, liberal intergovermentalism and neofunctionalism.

The often criticized economic dominance of Russia in the Eurasian Economic Union, compared with the EU, is not so significant if compared with other RIOs.

Thus, according to the results of a comparative study carried out by the Eurasian Development Bank, the economic weight of South Africa in the South African Customs Union is even greater (than the weight of the Russian Federation in the EAEU). And the US, as is known, economically dominates over its northern and southern neighbors which together form NAFTA. Researchers from IIASA (Vienna) admitted that even in the European Union the tandem of Germany and France will occupy a dominant position after Brexit (35% of the EU’s total GDP).

The export of oil and raw materials plays an even greater role in the trade structure of such associations as the Cooperation Council of the Arab States of the Persian Gulf and MERCOSUR.

And  trade disputes between member states are a common occurrence for any regional integration block, the more often – in their early phase of formation.

In his recent monograph, the leading Eurasian economist Evgeny Vinokurov qualifies the EAEU as an “active and normal regional integration organization”. Further he gives recommendations for ensuring the success of the EAEU as a supranational RIO on the world stage:

  1. A RIO is more successful, the older it is and the longer it is in the active phase of its development. Therefore, the Eurasian Economic Commissiona (EEC) and other stakeholders should do everything in order to maintain the active “integration drive” of the Eurasian Union.
  2. It is extremely important to implement national strategies for the long-term economic development of the EAEU member states, but in coordination with the Eurasian Economic Commission.
  3. In determining the priorities of the Union’s integration agenda, it is necessary to give preference to long-term economic development and modernization of the trade block, as, for example, set out in the “Main Directions of Economic Development of the EAEU until 2030”, and not so much to hasty solutions of momentary trade disputes.
  4. In order to strengthen the confidence of the national elites, of the business community and of the citizens of the member states in the supranational bodies of the Union and their decision-making mechanisms, it is necessary to continue work on increasing the transparency, publicity and accountability of these bodies. The more this will happen, the more the national businesses, ministries and citizens will appeal to the supranational bodies of the EAEU. Thus authority and relevance of the EAEU’s supranational bodies will rise.
  5. The convergence of macroeconomic indicators (inflation and exchange rates, budget deficit, public debt) is a fundamental condition for the success of any serious integration project. For example, the creation of a single domestic market can become a source of conflict in the event of sharp currency fluctuations between member countries.
  6. Due to its relatively insignificant economic weight in the global economy ($ 1.4 trillion), the Eurasian Union should look for continental allies – especially China and the European Union. The EAEU, therefore, should be considered as one of the “Lego bricks” in the plans to create a Greater Eurasian Partnership “from Lisbon to Shanghai.”

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