What are the subtleties of the implementation of 28 program values in the language of the Supreme State Council of the Union State?
During the meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State, 28 integration programs were adopted, approved by the presidents of both countries. In particular, the countries agreed on common principles of taxation and customs legislation, the formation of a single energy market and a common migration policy.
A new Military Doctrine of the Union State has been approved, on the basis of which Russia and Belarus will strengthen the regional grouping of troops. According to Vladimir Putin, the country has yet to fulfill a number of documents for cooperation in the economic sphere. In total, more than 400 legislative acts and agreements should be adopted for the implementation of software. Work will also begin on creating the symbols of the Union State. Alexander Lukashenko for his part approved carry out a reform of the union media and create a single media holding of the Union State, and not “put money on different plates.” What is the significance of this integration step?
The agreement of 28 roadmaps can be considered an important step towards further integration, negotiations have been under way since 1999, but far from the last. At first, we were talking about 31 roadmaps. However, in the economy, too, the intentions of the two countries have been announced, which will have to be overgrown with specifics. In addition to the adoption of more than 400 new legislative acts from the Russian side alone, the unification of law enforcement practice is ahead, which is sometimes more important than what is written in the laws. The road maps have not been fully published, which leaves Moscow and Minsk with the opportunity to submit them in a public edition in different ways.
In the economic sphere, too, there is no talk about the creation of supranational regulatory bodies. The creation of a single currency is no longer registered, although three years ago it was said that the Union State would surpass the European Union itself in terms of integration. So far, there is no intention to move to a single monetary policy. By the end of next year, it is necessary to conclude an agreement between central banks on the principles of its harmonization in order to create “similar financial conditions”, as well as the formation of a “comparable level of inflation.”
Investors and protection of financial services of the two countries can receive “equal scope of rights”, but so far we are talking only about the consumption of proposals for the harmonization of legislation. The terms of mutual admission of banking and insurance organizations to the markets of the two countries are unclear. Restrictions on access to public procurement for companies from the two countries will be lifted. True, not only formal rules are of decisive importance here, but also informal agreements.
In everything that concerns the main points of macroeconomic policy, the parties so far prefer to talk in a vague manner about the convergence of approaches and principles. But not unification. For example, according to the Prime Minister of Belarus Roman Golovchenko, planned conclude an agreement on general principles of taxation. However, “general principles” are not identical with the uniform tax policy and the uniform Tax Code. It is planned to create a Union State Committee on Tax Issues, but it will be of a consultative nature.
And when it comes to “harmonization of customs legislation”, this does not mean at all that a single Customs Committee of the Union State will be created, which will issue general rules that are now of interest to market players precisely in their various law enforcement details. They plan to create some kind of common customs risk management system. But this work has been going on since 2009. And it is not yet clear whether something will change for importers in practice and whether it will be possible to clear the goods for Russia in Belarus without a separate registration of the company there. Or, for some but different goods in Russia and Belarus, for example, zero or 10 percent VAT rate for telecommunication services in Belarus – increased VAT in Belarus 25%. Is unification planned? As well as, say, different rates of excise taxes on tobacco, which are lower in neighbors.
Putin drew attention to the fact that oil and gas issues still cause, although serious progress has been achieved, and now “the cost of energy resources for Minsk is nine to ten times lower than spot prices in Europe, and three to four times cheaper than long-term contracts with Europe “. It does not yet follow from this that from 2023, when the formation of a common energy market begins, prices in Russia and Belarus will become equal.
Efforts for rapprochement in the military-political field will continue. However, we are not talking about the creation of a unified army or the deployment of Russian units in Belarus. The Union State will receive a unified concept of migration policy. However, the “concept” is not identical with the unification of the visa regime, the coordination of the activities of the relevant sovereign structures is intensifying.
Some change at the philistine level, the citizens of the two countries will soon feel. Telephone roaming will be canceled. It will become possible to provide public services in electronic form, means of identification for goods, electronic mandatory labeling will be mutually recognized. Finally, in relation to the tourism industry, the term “regulatory unification” is just used.
So the two countries will continue to move towards each other, choosing for this not the shortest, but not the most controversial path. The end result will largely depend on how the political transit goes in Belarus, where a referendum on a new constitution is scheduled for February. Which, however, has not yet been published either.