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A New Dimension of Eurasian Integration

 On November 11, Maksim Karliuk, Leading Researcher at the HSE-Skolkovo Institute for Law and Development, acted as moderator of the session “The Digital Dimension of Eurasian Integration” at the conference “New Dimensions of Eurasian Integration: Results of the Five-Year Anniversary of the Eurasian Economic Union”.

The conference was held by the Higher School of Economics together with the Eurasian Economic Commission with the goal of summing up the results of the first five years of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), identifying urgent tasks of integration development, as well as identifying areas of interaction that could significantly strengthen the EAEU.

During the session, the development of the digital economy of the EAEU was discussed and the following main conclusions and suggestions were made:

1) The world economy is at a stage of deep structural transformation and the development of the digital economy is central. Technological change is the main driver of modern economic growth.

2) In 2017, the Eurasian Economic Union adopted the main directives for the implementation of a digital agenda towards 2025 and the priorities for developing initiatives in the framework of its implementation. For some priorities, certain results were achieved, and successful pilot projects were implemented. Particular successes can be noted in the digitalization of the customs sphere, which is due, among other things, to the fact that the customs union was created before the EAEU and, accordingly, a good initial base was formed for subsequent digitalization.

3) The EAEU needs to solve the problems of the Office of Management of (Digital) Initiatives of the Eurasian Economic Commission. The key problems of the Office are, firstly, in its small staff, which does not allow us to effectively develop initiatives for all priorities. Secondly, initially the Union was not created for project activities, which is an obstacle to promoting initiatives. In this regard, the importance of building design work grows.

4) In the field of foreign trade, the Eurasian Economic Commission requires, firstly, the expansion of the mandate for negotiations on free trade areas for digital goods. Secondly, it is necessary to expand competencies for negotiations on the protection of intellectual property rights. Thirdly, it is equally important to provide authority for the targeted removal of barriers to export development in the framework of electronic commerce (due to the dominance of digital imports).

5) In the EAEU, it is necessary to form an understanding that we are dealing with new entities, such as digital profiles, digital assets, cryptocurrencies, etc., which require new approaches. Moreover, the implementation of such approaches should be carried out by specialized departments, whereas today, at the national level, this is often not the case.

6) Among the priorities of the EAEU digital agenda, there is no development of artificial intelligence technologies. This is one of the most actively developing and promising areas in which the EAEU countries are significantly behind. The EAEU can play a key role in promoting its development throughout the EAEU, up to the development of a common strategy for the development of artificial intelligence technologies. Moreover, the effective parallel implementation of the existing priority of the digital agenda for data circulation in the Union will be a significant help, since data is the basis for the functioning of artificial intelligence technologies.