Some aspects of Eurasian integration and the prospects for the formation of EAEU unified social policy

« Back

Some aspects of Eurasian integration and the prospects for the formation of EAEU unified social policy 10.06.2016 13:28


Speaking about the post-Soviet space, it is impossible to avoid the two key themes: "conflicts" and "integration" This is about some specific aspects of the integration of the former Soviet Union and one would like to talk. In a globalizing world macro-regional integration may be regarded as a method of improving the competitiveness. When just not individual national economies will compete with each other but major regional economic alliances. Therefore it is not surprising as the need for Russia, due to economic sanctions and other post-Soviet states are interested in the Eurasian integration. Actually, it is important to distinguish between the globalization of the world economy as a new quality of internationalization at the stage of development as its maximum possible breadth and regional economic integration as the highest stage of development of this process in depth. In this regard, it appears that regional integration in modern conditions is closer to the idea of "self-sufficiency of large spaces"by Friedrich List.


Speaking about the formation of the Eurasian social space, the contradictory nature of the integration process is stated. So, the leaders of Belarus, and Kazakhstan have repeatedly stated that the EAEU provides neither for political integration, nor focuses on the preparation of an EAEU agreement on the integration and social integration. Thus the EAEU countries have in recent years at the international level and within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Community and Customs Union adopted a number of agreements on social policy.


It is worth mentioning the Concept of concerted social policy of the Member States of the Eurasian Economic Community (IFMS, 2007), denoting actual problems in social and labor sphere and draws attention to the fact that the solution to these problems is carried out at different levels of socio-economic development and social models of Member states' policies.


Nevertheless, proclaiming "gradual integration" and the creation of a "common Eurasian economic and social space" alternate forms of cross-country convergence should be annalizied. According to experts at the present time, the following degree of interstate integration exist:

1) free trade zone;

2) customs union;

3) a common economic space, a common market, the international economic community;

4) an economic union;

5) monetary union.

Phased implementation of these five processes is the full implementation of economic integration.


At this stage of the EAEU countries are in the third stage of integration (common economic space - the international economic community - a common market). Since the institutional forms of the Eurasian integration in some way replicate the practice of the European Community, it is necessary to understand that the EU experience can be useful for the EAEU. In particular, in the field of social policy. United Europe completed all the way in the past decade. Today the EU faces a number of insurmountable contradictions and is in crisis. Here are the consequences of the influx of immigrants from Asia and Africa, and the problem of different development within the EU, the debt of Greece and other countries of PIGS group. However, both positive and negative experience of the integration of the European countries, in particular in relation to the establishment of the social system in the EU may cause interest.


As is known, it all started not with social integration but with enterprise integration, at the same time to solve the problem of security in Europe: the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the European Economic Community (EEC) and European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). The social program of the European community at an early stage of the integration of different contradictions in main goals (political - social consensus, practical - the adaptation of the labor market to the new economic conditions). While the member states of the European community were not ready to accept a single coherent social policy. Moreover, there were opinions that it may interfere with the competitiveness of national economies and undermine national sovereignty. However, it should be noted that the adoption of the European Social Charter (1961) was very important. But, according to experts, even additions and updates made to the Charter in 1996, it is envisaged as general declarative, non-prescriptive obligations to participants of this agreement.


Gradually, under the pressure of the labor movement social policy was put forward as a number of important areas of the European community activities. The understanding of the need for active supranational social policy and as a factor contributing to the formation of economic and monetary union, and as one of the links in the future of the European economy regulation. At the Paris summit, the participating countries the EEC (1972) for the first time raised the question of the development of pan-European social policy that would consider the most important social problems of the European community of states in conjunction with the main directions of further integration. Wording was adopted, according to which the goal of integration is to create a "social Europe", "European social union." And since that time, it has developed more than 50 directives in the field of labor rights of workers, wages regulation, duration of work and rest, paid leave, etc.. It seems that this experience is important for EAEU countries


Regarding the integration of social policy after the EU formation, the formation of economic and monetary union, it should be noted that although the solution of social problems remains the responsibility of each individual state, ways of unification of social systems, harmonization of social relations in the EU still continue. More and more attention is paid to the social responsibility of business in the process of the improvement of social policy, the role of NGOs is growing in addition to the core subjects of social partnership.


Development of a common social model in the EU contributes the following factors: total integrated economic area with a common currency, contributing to economic and social stability of developing and strengthening the EU's global position; general social and demographic trends in the EU; the development of globalization and information technology, which requires changes in the forms of work organization and the increasing requirements for labor mobility.

 According to the EU's Lisbon Declaration development in the XXI century in a united Europe is expected after the formation of the Economic and Monetary and other common European space: information, scientific and technological, social and educational. But how successful is happening creation of a single European social model? It is argued that the social system in the EU is largely incompatible, and the biggest difference between EU countries is observed here. The main problem of the EU in the social sphere remains the presence of inter-state differences in the harmonization of the laws of the Member states in this area. General social policy of the EU is more advisory in nature and, thus, the creation of a "social Europe" is lagging behind the pace of economic and monetary integration.


To date, experts indicate, at least three models that detect the difference in the social policy of the European states, "Nordic" ("Nordic", "Swedish socialism"), "continental" ("corporatist", "paternalistic", "social market economy ") and" island "("Anglo-Saxon "), related to the social-democratic, conservative and liberal understanding of social policy, respectively. And whether there is a fourth model - the "Mediterranean" ("South European")? It remains controversial, although the emergence of PIGS group of countries shows, rather, about the existence of a "Mediterranean" model. But still there are some questions as the so-called "New Europe" is not being considered.


In favor of the formation of a single European social model is the presence of values ​​shared by all national model of social policy in the EU: a competitive economy and economic progress, social justice, social security, social solidarity, recognition of the role of the social partners and social dialogue, enabling society ecology, universal access to education, high-quality and accessible health care, democracy and human dignity, the rejection of all forms of discrimination and gender equality. Although, actually, at the declarative level, most of these provisions are reflected in the documents on social policy EAEU countries, including in the IFMS.


But speaking about the achievements of the European social policy, one should pay attention to the current system of social indicators. For example, Swedish experts have introduced to the national, and then in a Europe-wide turnover a key social policy concept of "social problem", first proposed by the UN expert group in 1961 as the state of "the needs of human life in a position which can be eliminated by actions of public institutions. " Thus, among these social issues that are relevant in today's society and require intervention and resolution are included: problems with children and young people (choice of profession, youth unemployment, antisocial, pedagogically neglected children, and others.); motherhood and family life (family conflicts, single mothers, divorce, families with children with disabilities and persons with disabilities, and others.); old age (old economic challenges, adapting to retired life, isolation from others, care for the elderly); disability and disease (rehabilitation of the disabled, care and others.); professional life (professional adaptation, re-training, low wages, occupational injuries, and others.); behavioral problems; social and economic changes (migration, urbanization, localization of certain social groups, and others.); natural and political shocks (floods, earthquakes, war victims, refugees and internally displaced persons); and social minorities (ethnic and religious groups). Such a classification of social problems can be instrumental in demand in EAEU countries in defining indicators and performance indicators of social policy, the identification of recipients of social assistance, etc.


Accounting for all these European experiences, including learning from mistakes becomes important in building of social policy in EAEU countries. After all, the domestic migration policy is actually aimed at attracting labor to fill jobs with unclaimed unskilled physical labor. The problem is that these migrant workers contribute to the preservation of low-paid jobs, which affects the entire labor market. and, ultimately, prevents economic modernization.


Thus, the situation with the formation of a unified social policy  of EAEU countries corresponds to the early and middle stages of the development of European integration, when issues of social policy have been given insufficient attention. If the 1960-1970's in Europe. strengthening social policy issues addressed by the mass demonstrations of workers in underdeveloped labor and trade union movement in today's Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, the effectiveness of this way is much lower.


At the same time, in terms of foreign economic sanctions by Western countries (including the EU), with which Russia has faced in years 2014-16. and facing the Republic of Belarus for several years, the transition to EU standards in social policy, including the provisions of the "European Social Charter", it seems more chimerical. At the same time, in a situation of potential isolation of our country from the West will be more likely to manifest certain forms of mobilization that will ultimately increase the rate of exploitation of labor.


On the other hand, the complex international situation dictates the need to improve social cohesion and reduce social tension. And here the initiatives by the government are expected, according to the old experience of Bismarck who advocated an Active Social Policy. Indeed, in an environment where globalization as a process leading to a decrease in the sovereignty of States, obviously "is sliping" the opposite, centripetal and isolationist tendencies in the politics of many states are indicated and objective role of the state is increasing (which is still too early to write off) and its active policy, ranging from direct paternalistic measures to the development programs of small and medium businesses.


Igor Seleznev, deputy of Joint center of the North Caucasus social and socio-political studies, Institute for Socio-Political Studies, PhD in Sociology.