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Future Eurasian Economic Union not to be opposed to EU

MINSK, April 26, /ITAR-TASS/. The creation of the Eurasian Economic Union does not mean the revival of the Soviet Union and should not be regarded as an opposition to the European Union, Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said on Saturday, April 26.

“This does not mean the restoration of the Soviet Union. Yes, we are creating certain supranational bodies, but they will address mainly economic issues that benefit all states,” the minister said.

He stressed that the decision-making process in the Eurasian Economic Union would be “very transparent: no decision will be adopted without taking into account our interests”.

Makei expressed confidence that the Eurasian Economic Union would be created from January 1, 2015. “We can see prospects for our participation in it. There will be a large market of 170 million people where we can sell our goods. There will be free movement of goods, services, capital and labour within this market,” he said.

The minister warned against “putting the European Union in opposition to the future Eurasian Economic Union, especially in the current situation, as some officials in Brussels do. It’s wrong to turn the Eurasian Economic Union into a bugaboo and say that this is a restoration of the Soviet Union. This will do no good,” Makei said.

“We must think about how to make these unions mutually supplementing and their economies interpenetrating,” he added.

The Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union are natural partners that can create a common space from Lisbon to Vladivostok, Tatyana Valovaya, a member of the Eurasian Economic Commission’s Board (having the rank of minister), said.

“We do not consider the EU a competitor. We believe that the EU and the Eurasian Economic Space are natural partners. We can hope that one day we will create a common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok, which has been discussed over the past 15-20 years. I think that when we have these two unions in place, we will be able to work faster,” she said.

Valovaya recalled that when “a common market was being created in Europe, everybody feared that it would turn into ‘Fortress Europe’ that would isolate the EU from the rest of the world. Today we can see that this did not happen. But now some speak about ‘a Eurasian fortress’. I want to assure you that there will be no ‘fortress’.”

“We are building a very open institution. We have received dozens of requests for talks on a free trade zone,” she added.

Such contacts have already started with several countries, including Vietnam and New Zealand. “We have many requests from Asia Pacific countries,” Valovaya said.

The Eurasian Economic Commission is a supranational body of the Common Economic Space (prototype of the Eurasian Economic Union) created by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. The Common Economic Space has been operating since the start of 2012.

The Commission coordinates integration processes within the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia and the Common Economic Space.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes that the agreement on the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union will be signed before May 2014 and will become effective from January 2015.

The common goal of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan is to move on to a higher level of cooperation, which should be facilitated by the new union, Putin said at a summit of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council on Wednesday, March 5.

“To do that we will have to meet the set deadlines and complete the drafting of the agreement by May,” he said, adding that this work had been accelerated in December 2013.

The institutional part of the agreement should determine the legal status and organisational framework of the union, and lay down the main principles of its work.

“The functional part will regulate mechanisms of economic cooperation,” the president added.

He stressed the need to guarantee “four freedoms”: free movement of goods, services, capital and labour among the member states. “It is important to set forth concrete obligations to eliminate exclusions and limitations remaining in the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space,” Putin said.

He believes that the European Economic Union needs to be granted broad powers in the field of economic regulation. “This will allow [us] to carry out a common and coordinated policy in key industries, raise the sustainability and development potential of the national economies, create a large common market and bring in additional investments,” the head of state said.

Putin noted that integration was already paying off. “Despite the overall economic slowdown in the world, trade turnover between the three countries in 2013 did not decrease but on the contrary grew to 64.1 billion U.S. dollars,” he said.

The structure of mutual trade improved: the share of resources decreased while the share of goods with a high added value increased. Putin recalled that entrepreneurs were actively engaged in this work and co-authored many decisions.