The CIS and Experience of the European Integration

Дата публикации: 29 апреля 2014
Автор(ы): Aleksandr Shevchenko, head of office of the Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Minsk
Публикатор: Научная библиотека Порталус
Источник: (c) "БЕЛАРУСЬ В МИРЕ" No.004 12-01-97
Номер публикации: №1398771640

Aleksandr Shevchenko, head of office of the Executive Secretary of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Minsk, (c)

The development of integration and conducting mar ket reforms in Belarus and other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) require that the world's experience in the area of the establishment and functioning of integration entities be taken into account and appropriately used. In this regard, the experience of the establishment of the economic community in Europe is of particular importance. The advanced industrial countries of Western Europe have successfully passed a considerable part of the way the states of the Commonwealth have just set foot on.


From the beginning of its formation the CIS has been largely basing itself upon the experience of the European Union (EU). The missions and goals of these two regional organisations are in many aspects similar. Since patterns of the process of economic integration are of universal character, in the course of the elaboration of the founding documents-the Charter of the CIS, the Treaty on the Establishment of Economic Union and some other agreements-EU's relevant documents and materials were studied. The EU's experience that may be used within the framework of our integration entity was and is being taken account of.


The experience of the EU in what relates to formation of the Economic, Currency and Customs Unions is of a particular interest. In September 1993, the heads of the CIS states signed a treaty providing for the formation of an economic union. According to the provisions of this treaty, economic union is called upon to provide for a free movement of goods, services, capitals and work force across the territory of the Commonwealth's nations, to give an opportunity for conducting a co-ordinated monetary, budgetary, customs and currency policy, as well as for implementing other measures.


Agreements on the principles of free trade, on the creation of a payment union, on the development of new types of integration in the form of trans- national, financial-industrial groups, joint production and commercial structures, as well as other documents were signed within the framework of this treaty. To a certain extent, all this leads to the inevitability of reforms aimed at the formation of market infrastructure, the creation of common conditions for economic growth, restructuring of the economy, formation of private sector,-that is, aimed at the creation of all necessary prerequisites for the provision of stable economic growth in the CIS nations.


However, it should be admitted that approved programmes and agreements are not always fulfilled. To a certain extent, the establishment of the Economic Union has come to a standstill. Its mechanisms are barely working. Most likely, the main objective reason is the fact that so far the Commonwealth has not reached the phase of its development when integration is regarded not as the means of solving current economic problems, but as a basis for a long-term mutually beneficial co-operation and provision for the economic well-being. The integration of the CIS countries will be most fruitful only when individual states manage to overcome current economic difficulties and stabilise national economies. Otherwise, attempts to accelerate the integration will not be fully effective.


The integration is a step-by-step process, going on along with the formation of economic prerequisites and the establishment of respective administrative and legal framework. In this regard, a concept for the development of economic integration of the CIS countries is becoming extremely important. Heads of the CIS states approved such a concept at their meeting on 28 March 1997. According to some experts this is the most fundamental document which appeared during the six- year period of the Commonwealth's history. The experts stress a high scientific level of the concept, industrialists regard the concept as having real prerequisites for a broad practical implementation. The concept sets common goals and also highlights priorities for every individual country.


The concept for the development of economic in-tegration is guiding the economic policy of the CIS states towards a more effective development of the domestic markets. It envisages an accelerated formation of the common economic space together with the establishment of organisational conditions and mechanisms providing for interaction within such a space. The common economic space will be set ap through the creation and development of a free-trade zone, customs and monetary union, common agricultural and labour markets, single scientific and technical, investment and informational space. According to experts, the implementation of the idea of the common economic area laid down in the concept, will make it possible to significantly increase GDP of the CIS countries by the year 2000. The concept was developed with regard to general principles of advancement towards an integrated communily: it allows for different levels of integration, and envisages formation of a co-operation system similar to the one successfully used in the EU.


Multi-Speed Integration


Currently the relations between the participating states of the Commonwealth are built in compliance with the principle according to which no one can make a country be party to an agreement if that country is not interested in it due to political or economic considerations. At the same time, no one can block advancement of the other states towards higher levels of integration. The CIS can be regarded as a regional entity with the "variable geometry", since most documents were not signed by all CIS participating states in 1992-97. Additionally, even when signing agreements, some countries made substantial reservations.


The EU has been applying a similar principle for a long time: not all EU's countries signed some major agreements. The Maastricht Treaty, ratified by all EU participating states, stipulates considerable exceptions for U.K. and Denmark, related, in particular, to the provisions on transition to the single currency.


The integration measures within the EU do not always strictly correspond to the geographic framework of the community. Thus, the fundamental principle is ensured: integration is a voluntary process, in which participate only those states that are actually ready for it. It is exactly such an approach that is currently required for the CIS. Certain differences in the conditions of development and in the interests of the collaborating countries, distinctive features of politico-economic situation bring about a broad spectrum of views and positions, and affect the countries' readiness towards a real integration and consolidation. In this situation, any progress towards deepening integration in the CIS requires great efforts aimed at the development of approaches that would take into account national and state interests of the participating states and peculiar features of their political and foreign trade strategies.


From this point of view, the multi-speed integration formula, or integration at different levels, makes it possible to give necessary dynamics and effectiveness to the Commonwealth. The idea of the Commonwealth's multi-speed integration can exert only positive influence on the integration processes in the former Soviet Union. In fact, if there is a "hard core" of the CIS represented by a group of countries having a serious intention to move gradually towards customs union, single economic area and, after these, towards a fully-fledged economic and monetary union, then it is possible that under favourable course of events other participating states will also join.


However, the implementation of the multi-speed integration formula is an extremely complex and delicate process. It should be taken into account that even within the EU , where the concept of a "two-speed" Europe or that of Europe with "variable geometry" was formulated, this concept has not become an official doctrine yet.


In fact, several mini-entities have been established within the CIS, these entities are operating under respective highest and executive bodies. The Central Asian participating states of the CIS-the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Uzbekistan-signed a treaty on the establishment of the single economic area. Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic joined their efforts under the Treaty on the Deepening of Integration in Economic and Humanitarian Areas. Lastly, the Union of Belarus and Russia is the most advanced alliance.


Each of the above unions of states pursues its own goals. Ultimately, all of them have the right to exist and to confirm in practice their usefulness. Regarding the available experience of the CIS development " at different levels", one should first of all find out how the development of sub-entities is co- ordinated through the efforts aimed at giving dynamism to the Commonwealth as a whole. Currently, it is possible to state with a great deal of certainty that the concept of multi-speed integration is effective only if two key conditions are observed.


Firstly, it should not produce a disintegration effect and break down already established broader mechanisms of interaction. The integration sub- systems should be formed in such a way so that they could provide for co-ordination of actions between the bodies of the Commonwealth and newly established institutions, and avoid overlapping of their functions.


Secondly, objective economic criteria rather than political considerations should determine the "core" of states ready to a closer integration. At the same time, it is important not to reject those not ready for the accelerated in-tegration because of political reasons, but eligible in terms of economic criteria.


Another important factor contributing to the viability of the integration could and should be effective steps by a "narrow" group of integrating countries. Such steps would act as catalyst for further integration, which other states will gradually join.


The problems of economic, state and political deve-lopment, which have become of international importance, and turned to be a cause for conflict of interests of the different economic and political forces, affect the level of integration of the CIS nations. Showing interest in the post-Soviet area as an open big market for Western goods and a large source of fuel and raw materials, the West is pursuing a firm po-licy aimed at minimising expenses channelled for the implementation of reforms in the CIS countries.


Conditions for Success in the CIS


These and other conditions suggest that the EU's experience should not be mechanically applied in the CIS. It can be applied only creatively, respecting distinctive and specific features of the Commonwealth. The CIS is a different entity. It is not the British Commonwealth; it does not follow the example of the common market in the 1960-70's Europe either. It is not analogous to the European Union. The CIS is neither political nor military alliance; rather, it is a more "loose" community of states willing to maintain relations at the highest level, and at the level of executive authorities. The bodies established within the CIS should not be put on a par with better organised and more influential EU's legislative, executive and judicial structures.


The EU is a classic example of the political entity, the establishment of which is conducted gradually and based upon a solid ground of clear advantages of economic co-operation for all participating states. Naturally, this co- operation have provided for conditions necessary for the divergence of policies in social sphere, in foreign policy and security, and, finally, for a political union and introduction of a European currency.


The CIS has not reached this phase yet. Currently, the CIS's nations are not willing to give up even part of their sovereignty. They will be able to agree to limitations imposed by CIS's common policy only if they are absolutely sure that this would bring them benefits in the future. Only when concrete steps are made for the development of free exchange of their national currencies-an essential prerequisite for the establishment of the single market and free flow of labour, capital and products-then the nature of the CIS will change. Also, in such a case the experience of the European integration can be used more effectively.


To make the Commonwealth more effective, the participating states should clearly and precisely define the goals of Commonwealth and develop a relevant long-term strategy.

Опубликовано на Порталусе 29 апреля 2014 года

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