OREANDA-NEWS. The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) has established: it can face challenges or conflicts, but will withstand. One of the most important issues in the future will be relationships between the EEU and the EU. The Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) has significant supranational competencies and takes part in all international negotiations concerning trade. However, the European Union (EU) has not recognised it officially yet. Recognition will be a precondition for dialogue. Evgeny Vinokurov, Director of Eurasian Development Bank's (EDB) Centre for Integration Studies, said this at the session Russia and the EU: What Follows the “Strategic Partnership” that Never Happened?

The session took place on 16 June 2016 as part of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. It was organised by the Valdai International Discussion Club.

Relationships between the EU and the EEU have a proximate and a distant horizons, which should be distinguished. On the proximate horizon, Eurasian integration's recognition by Europe is a central task and a necessary precondition. The longer-term objective should be "living after the crisis." Evgeny Vinokurov is convinced that proposals and calculations should be prepared now for a future agreement between the EU and the EEU. "These should be the possible areas for negotiations, underpinned with calculations, as well as industrial and functional issues. This suggests pragmaticism, the convergence of positions and their wise exchange."

Evgeny Vinokurov outlined key characteristics of the possible agreement between the EEU and the EU. He also emphasised that the EEU member states are interested not simply in a free trade arrangement, but in a deep, comprehensive agreement with the EU. In particular, he pointed out that, "Because of the current structure of their trade, which is based on raw materials, Russia and Kazakhstan are not interested in a narrowly formulated free trade regime with the European Union. In addition, the obvious problems associated with trade concessions should be compensated with benefits in other spheres." Evgeny Vinokurov believes that there are dozens of potential issues to be included in the agreement, from trade in goods and services to access to financial markets, technical regulation, visa-free travels, and regulation of transboundary infrastructure.

He suggests that such a comprehensive agreement may be entered into in the 2020s. "Even after the crisis in relationships is overcome and possibilities arise to begin profound talks, such talks – because of their extremely complicated nature and the range of issues to be discussed – will take at least several years," Evgeny Vinokurov added. "The talks won't be easy. They will last for some five to six years. The parties should sit at the negotiation table as soon as the political situation makes this possible. The task of the expert community is to determine the future agenda and preconditions for such negotiations now," he concluded.