The leaders of the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, who met on Tuesday in a videoconference mode, discussed the development strategy of the Union for the period until 2025. It was supposed to approve 13 international treaties, more than 60 regulations, make 25 changes to the current treaty on the Union.
But during the discussion of the agenda there was a very wide range of opinions. This was announced at the end of the meeting by the chairman of the board of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EAEU executive body) Mikhail Myasnikovich. As a result, the strategy – 2025 was adopted as a whole, but sent for revision.
“What was agreed was a compromise,” BelTA quoted Myasnikovich as saying.
The main unresolved point of the strategy remained the problem of pricing for gas transportation services on the EAEU common market.
Simply put, partners do not like the cost of Russian gas. Of the five member states of the Union, the price of gas, except for Russia itself, suits Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Against – Belarus and Armenia.
Belarus brothers – like Germans
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly raised before the Kremlin the problem of lowering prices for Russian natural gas entering the republic. An argument such as the pandemic and the crisis state of the Belarusian economy was also involved.
“It is obvious that with such a sharp change in the economic situation, the price should be more adaptive, and the settlement mechanism should be lifting for consumers,” Lukashenko called back in April.
Spokesman for the Russian President Dmitry Peskov, commenting on Lukashenko’s statement, noted that the issue of the price of Russian gas in the EAEU will be worked out at the expert level.
Once again, it sounded on May 14th. At a meeting with members of his government, Lukashenko noted that, according to him,
Russia sells natural gas to Europe at $ 65- $ 68, while for Belarus – for $ 127.
At the same time, he noted that on the 75th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War, it was wrong to sell gas to Germany at a lower price than Belarus.
At a meeting of the EAEU Council on Tuesday, Lukashenko reiterated this claim. Nevertheless, the Belarusian head proposed to approve the strategy – 2025 as a whole, and intends to return to the uncoordinated paragraph on gas later. “This is a strategy, so there’s nowhere to rush, except for the item on natural gas. And then, even if we make a decision in such a formulation on natural gas, this is not a concrete decision. Concrete negotiations will follow him, ”the Belarusian leader noted.
Similar claims from Armenia. At the end of March, Armenian Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan sent a letter to Gazprom’s head Alexei Miller with a proposal to start new negotiations on reducing gas prices due to the deteriorating economic situation in the country associated with the spread of the new coronavirus. Gazprom is the only gas supplier to consumers in Armenia.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan during an online press conference on May 16 said that the EAEU development strategy was agreed by all the organization’s members. “But one issue remains unresolved – the formation of a common gas market. We have no other serious problems inside the EAEU, ”the prime minister specified.
The rate is “discriminatory”, the format is full-time
Pashinyan has repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with the way the common energy market is formed. He called the “discriminatory” pricing in the energy sector within the EAEU.
About 80% of the necessary energy carriers Armenia receives from Russia. Now the price of Russian gas on the border with Armenia is set through agreements at the level of leaders.
Pashinyan previously twice discussed the price of gas with Vladimir Putin. But in the end, she still rose. From January 1, 2019 – from $ 150 to $ 165 for 1 thousand cubic meters. m. This year the price is $ 150 per thousand cubic meters. Nevertheless, Russian gas costs Armenia 2.8 times more expensive than Europe, where prices have fallen. In early April, Gazprom Armenia applied to the Public Services Regulatory Commission with a request to revise natural gas tariffs. It is proposed to increase the average tariff by 11%.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin, however, did not promise anything specific to the EAEU partners. Speaking at the summit, he praised the strategic document positively. “Its adoption will create a solid foundation for deepening integration, further converging our economies and expanding the areas of our cooperation,” Putin said.
The strategy sets tasks to complete the formation of a common market for goods, services, capital and labor, improve customs and administrative regulation, and create a digital space. Strategy – 2025 also lays the foundation for intensifying the processes of import substitution, industrial localization.
But regarding the transportation and transit of gas, Putin noted that “a single tariff can only be implemented in a single market with a single budget, a single tax system.”
“Such a deep level of integration in the EurAsEC has not yet been achieved, we are well aware of this, but for now gas prices should be based on market conditions, take into account the costs and investments of suppliers, and provide a reasonable rate of return on capital invested in production” ”Putin emphasized, adding that this is actually“ normal world practice. ”
The Eurasian Economic Union will exist without a development strategy at least until October-November. The next EAEU summit in Minsk is scheduled for this time. The date of the event will be determined later.
Lukashenko, chairman of the EAEU, expressed hope that the coronavirus will retreat by autumn and the leaders will meet in person. “I really look forward to holding a meeting of the heads of the EAEU member states in full-time format and would suggest holding it in Minsk at a time when you can come,” the Belarusian leader noted.
And then the Strategy – 2025, including the gas point, may be approved, made it clear to Lukashenko.
For Belarus, it is important that the price of delivering gas from a field in Russian Yamal is reduced, although Yamal gas is cheap, says Igor Yushkov, a leading expert at the National Energy Security Fund. “But here the geopolitical aspect of pricing is important. Russia insists on uniting into one state – this is an unambiguous message, ”the expert says.
As for Armenia, gas for this country was cheaper for many years than in Europe. “And now in Armenia they complain that Europe is cheaper,” Yushkov summarizes.
First Vice-President of the Center for Political Technologies Alexei Makarkin believes that Moscow does not make concessions to Minsk because of the upcoming presidential elections in August. “Lukashenko has recently demonstrated his independence. He spoils economic integration, he held a victory parade, he was not afraid of an epidemic, and he did not quarantine the economy. Voters will be grateful to him for this. And now it is going to the polls under the flag of the Belarusian independence. Why would he make gifts for the election ?! ” – says Makarkin.
At the same time, Russia seems to have resigned themselves to the fact that Lukashenko did not play up to the transit of power, in which the two states are united. So, the adoption of the 2025 strategy was logically quite logically postponed.