Eurasian Integration: to Brussels via Moscow

Eurasian Integration: to Brussels via Moscow

A lot of countries that do not belong to the European Union take efforts to approximate their national legislation to that of the EU. With reference to non-EU member states legislative approximation means transposition, implementation and enforcement of the acquis in their national legal practices. In a narrower sense approximation can be defined as a legislative process that aims gradually to bring closer and eventually to bring into compliance third countries’ legislative framework with the acquis.

Both countries outside the EU and EU member states are interested in approximation. For the former the motivation behind approximation can vary essentially. Thus, complete legislative approximation is a pre-requisite for countries seeking EU accession. In this case the acquis is integrated in the national legal frameworks. Other countries may be interested in legislative approximation with a view to enjoying a favourable legal environment and economic advantages, encouraging an inflow of investment and obtaining a better access to the EU market, etc. In this case the acquis is only partially integrated into the national legal frameworks depending on the objectives that the approximation is supposed to achieve.

Belarus could get the same advantages if it initiated a meaningful approximation process. However, the country lacked political will to achieve this objective and now that Eurasian integration is under way, a lot of areas are being regulated on the integration level.  Consequently, participation in Eurasian integration, in which international standards are implemented and the EU experience is made use of, indirectly promotes approximation. The findings of the research “Possibilities for the Approximation of the Belarusian Legislation to the EU Acquis within Eurasian Integration Framework” show that there are two basic methods of this ‘backdoor approximation’:

1. To ensure that the national legislation conforms to the provisions of the CU and CES agreements and other documents;

2. To harmonise the national legislation with that of the leading partners in trade that to a certain degree approximate their legislation to the acquis.

Thus, if the EU legal standards are borrowed at the CU and CES level or from Belarus’ partners in trade in the areas that are not regulated at the CU and CES level, it will invariably result in conforming to the EU acquis. This is particularly true of such areas as investment, banking law and financial services, intellectual property, rules on competition, and technical rules and standards. The EU can play a significant role in the process by actively ‘exporting’ its acquis.

Should there be political will, Belarus can approximate its legislation to the acquis on its own in the abovementioned areas that are not regulated within the CU and CES framework. At the same time approximation is possible in the other areas as well, provided the actual CU and CES regulation is accounted for.

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