On 15 March 2019, the first “Connecting Eurasia Dialogue: From the Atlantic to the Pacific” was held in Brussels, at Europe’s political heart. The event was organized by the Roscongress Foundation and the Conoscere Eurasia Association with the support of the Association of European Businesses and the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce. Amid the current political cooldown, this was a unique gathering, enabling a high-level dialogue on trade, economic, and integration issues among stakeholders from the wider Eurasian space, including the European Union (EU), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and China. The focus of high-level policy makers and top business executives attended the Dialogue was on challenges and opportunities of the EU’s engagement with the EAEU, harmonization of soft infrastructure to enhance trans-Eurasian connectivity, and the EAEU’s single pharmaceutical market. This IIASA discussion paper provides a summary of the deliberations, supported by research from inside and outside the Institute.
The working assumption of this report is that once the political problems will have been resolved, the EU and the EAEU would set as an agreed objective the gradual movement towards a comprehensive Greater Eurasian cooperation and integration structure. Such a structure should be in line with the WTO’s rules and obligations, as well as with the approaches and best practices of other relevant international organizations.
On 26-27 June 2017, IIASA hosted a high-level consultation meeting to further discuss the second phase of the IIASA Futures Initiative “Challenges and Opportunities of Economic Integration within a wider European and Eurasian Space”. The event concentrated around one full day on the high-level stakeholder segment and one day of an expert meeting. Stakeholders and organizations interested in participating and supporting the second phase of the project were presented a brief overview of the first phase (2014-2016), plans for the second phase (2018-2022), as well as the research on-going in 2017 as fast track studies. All the discussions are based on the “Lisbon to Vladivostok” and “Greater Eurasia” common economic space concepts.
The research on technical regulations and standards highlights that the EAEU is already implementing many EU standards as the basis for reforming and modernizing its former GOST regulations and standards. In addition the EAEU is adopting many standards of the international standards organizations (ISO, IEC, ITU), which work very closely in partnership with the European standards organizations (CEN, CENELEC, ETSI), such that international and European standards are to a large degree identical. This means that the legal and technical infrastructure for non-tariff barriers of the two parties is already converging. This makes non-tariff barriers a potentially fertile field for cooperation between the EU and EAEU, which in turn could mean easier access to markets and increased mutual trade. In this case, the potential format and extent of cooperation could extend to include a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) on Conformity Assessment, through to the most ambitious formula (in EU practice) of the Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA). Such arrangements would in principle ideally form part of a free trade agreement. Such scenarios can be technically specified, but of course they would have to rely on demanding political conditions which today are not satisfied.