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Post-Soviet Integration : The Functionning of the EEU

The EEU seems to operate on a similar model to that of the EU. Apart from the institutional aspect to which we will return later, it is essentially an international organization with an economic goal whose competences are highly regulated.

Article 2 of the treaty provides definitions of the terms of the Eurasian policy and among these we can find concepts inspired by EU law such as the harmonization of legislation (even if the European tool for doing this , the directive, does not exist in EEU law), the common economic space (in the Astana Treaty the terms “common” and “single” seem to contradict each other since they relate to the same policies and may reflect tensions between member states as to the scope of the EEU's competences), single (common) market, coordinated policy and common policy, and finally unification of legislation. Since the EEU incorporates the Eurasian Customs Union that preceded it, this is also included in the definitions.

These definitions are followed by the aims and principles of the EEU, which of course recalls the organization of the European treaties, presenting the Union as an organization with objectives for the achievement of which means are granted by the Member States. Unlike the EU, however, the EEU remains exclusively an international organization for economic purposes, no other objective is currently envisaged. Fundamental principles functioning of the Union are also listed to provide a framework for the use of the powers attributed to it. One can read references there, for example, to subsidiarity and the attribution of competences, respect for the norms of international law (with particular emphasis on the sovereignty of States and their territorial integrity) as well as a commitment by States not to hinder the action of the Union (reference to negative integration or the will not to prevent the construction of the Union).

These provisions are followed by a definition of Union law and the various acts of secondary law that the Union may adopt.. Unlike the EU, we are not talking here about Regulations or Directives. The law of the EEU is indeed limited to orders (aimed at acts of an organizational and regulatory nature) and decisions (which are acts of a regulatory nature). The attribution of competences is essentially done between the organs of the Union. A hierarchy is planned with the Treaty of Astana itself at the top, which takes precedence over the Union's international agreements and secondary legislation.. The secondary law is hierarchical with the decisions of the Supreme Council at the top, then the Intergovernmental Council and at the bottom the decisions of the Commission.. The EEU also provides for the establishment of a common monetary policy (reminiscent of the practice of the European Currency Snake of the EEC) and has provided for a precise linguistic regime (the working language is Russian but all acts must be translated into the languages ​​of the Member States).

Institutionally, the most important body is the Supreme Council. Being the analogue of the European Council, it sets the broad outlines of Union policy. But contrary to European law, the Supreme Council also takes “decisions aimed at achieving the objectives of the Union”. He also appoints to practically all the positions of the Union and also approves the internal regulations of the institutions of the Union.

The Intergovernmental Council is responsible for the execution of the treaty and controls the activity of the Commission to which it can give instructions.. The Commission for its part can propose recommendations and decisions falling within its competence..

The competences of the Union are distributed between the different organs according to the importance of the questions asked, always to the advantage of the Supreme Council. The Commission can adopt acts by qualified majority depending on the nature of the competence concerned, but the Supreme Council and the Intergovernmental Council operate on the principle of strict unanimity. Moreover, the acts of the Commission can be suspended by the Intergovernmental Council or the Supreme Council.

It is therefore clear, in view of this institutional construction, that if the EEU aims to implement legal policies similar to those of the EU, it does not do so in the same way. The EU is a highly integrated organization with a lot of leeway given to the integrated bodies. In the EEU, most power is held by the Supreme Council. One could see in this the fact that the EEU is closer to the beginnings of the EEC than to the current EU, but it is more likely to say that the EEU is even closer to the USSR in which the powers were entrusted to the Supreme Council (representing the people and the Union in the USSR, while in the EEU it represents the member states at the level of heads of state) and that then the execution is entrusted to subordinate bodies (CEC for USSR and Intergovernmental Commission and Council in the EEU).

But it is also necessary to underline the absence of an institution that we find in the EU: the Parliament. The European Parliament has existed since the early days of the EEC and its powers have only grown over time. A simple consultative chamber composed of members of national parliaments, it became a chamber elected by universal suffrage with an important voice in the adoption of acts of Union law and a power of control over appointments. It contributes to the democratic functioning of the European Union and seeks to obtain the support of European citizens. The EEU for its part does not provide for any common citizenship (based on the system of rights provided for in the framework of the CIS for the movement of citizens) and does not provide for any parliamentary body whatsoever (even consultative).

If the USSR had a Soviet people for decades with a common culture and a common citizenship, it is quite ironic to see that today it is Europe that best embodies citizen integration at the regional level. Indeed, through European citizenship and parliamentary elections, a European “deimos“ is being formed while the EEU does not have this ambition. The federal integration of the EEU is therefore very weak compared to that of the EU.

It can therefore be deduced that the EEU is completely subject to the will of the States with practically no room for maneuver for the Commission. Added to this is the question of integration when we look at the question of “principal-agent” or “principal-mandated”. In the European Union, there is a European civil service which is almost independent of the Member States which appoint it (especially to the Commission and to the Court of course). But the EEU does not seem to support this form of indirect integration too much by preventing the creation of a “Eurasian elite”. Even the agents of the Eurasian Commission seem to be more submissive to the States that appoint them than to the Union itself. As a result, Union agents are mandated by the States to support the needs of the mandating State.

We therefore see through this analysis that the EEU, even if it claims to follow an example of political regional integration like the European Union, remains quite timid by these institutions. It remains absolutely subject to the will of the States and the use of unanimity prevents it from moving forward as much as from engaging gear mechanisms as we have seen for Europe. Also its public service does not seem to be able to really distance itself from the will of the States.

But if these elements seem to present an image of an organization subject to the will of States, this is in fact not entirely true. It would be more truthful to say that these elements are safeguards wanted by the Member States to have more means of resistance against the hegemony of the Russian giant. As we will see in the next paragraph, the EEU is above all an extension of Russian power to achieve its geopolitical objectives.


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