New Integration Project for Eurasia – Making the Future Today
January 1, 2012, will see the launch of a key integration project, the Common Economic Space of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
This project is, without exaggeration, a milestone for our three countries and, in fact, for all post-Soviet states.
Because of the global financial crisis, nations are looking for new sources of economic growth. This has made integration processes even more relevant. We are really facing the need to seriously upgrade our partnership principles, both in the CIS and in other regional alliances. We are focusing primarily on developing trade and industrial cooperation.
Essentially, we need to turn integration into a stable and long-term project that will be easy to understand and attractive to people and businesses and that will not depend on ever-changing political – or any other – circumstances.
Since July 1, 2011, we have removed all border controls for the circulation of goods within our three countries, which signaled the emergence of a full-fledged customs union with clear prospects for implementing even the most ambitious business initiatives. Now we are taking it a step further, moving on from the Customs Union to the Common Economic Space. We are setting up a huge market with some 165 million consumers, with harmonized laws and with the free circulation of capital, services and manpower.
It is crucial that the CES be based on coordinated efforts in key institutional areas: macroeconomics, fair competition, technical regulations, agricultural subsidies, transport, and natural monopolies’ tariffs. In time, we will also harmonize our visa and migration policies, which will enable us to cancel border controls on our internal borders. In other words, we will have our own version of the Schengen Area, which proved to be very helpful to the Europeans themselves and to all the people coming to the EU to work, study or travel.
We no longer need to maintain security along the 7,000 kilometer border between Russia and Kazakhstan. Furthermore, we will now have much better conditions for developing cross-border cooperation.
Once migration, border control and other restrictions (such as the “labor quotas”) are removed, people will be completely free to choose where to live, study and work. Incidentally, even in the Soviet Union, people were not as free to move because of the residence permit system.
We will also significantly increase the amount of goods one can bring in for personal use without paying customs duties. Thus, people will not have to queue at customs; neither will they have to undergo humiliating inspections.
The establishment of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space lays the foundation for the formation of a future Eurasian Economic Union. At the same time, the membership of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space will grow gradually with the full-scale accession of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Not wanting to stop there, we are setting ourselves the ambitious task of going to the next level of integration: the Eurasian Union.
What prospects and perspectives do we see for this project?
First of all, it is not about recreating the USSR in any form. It would be naïve to try to restore or copy what is already a thing of the past. However, close integration on a platform of new values, politics, and economics is what is currently called for.
We are suggesting a model of a powerful supranational union that can become one of the poles of today’s world while being an efficient connecting link between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific Region. This also means that, on the base of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space, we need to achieve closer coordination of currency and economic policies and establish a full-fledged economic union.
The combination of natural resources, capital, and strong human potential will make the Eurasian Union competitive in the industrial and technological race and the race for investor money, new jobs, and advanced production facilities. Along with other key players and regional institutions such as the EU, the USA, China, and APEC, it will ensure the sustainability of global development.