Chairman of Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Tigran Sargsyan announced on May 2 that the difference between the EAEU and the EU consists in the equality between member countries in the former. “Armenia is represented by 2 ministers in the Eurasian Economic Commission as are all the EAEU member states. All the member countries have equal votes. Moreover, our countries have a right to vote in decision making in the union. It means that we deal with a union which has member countries with equal rights. This is a fundamentally important circumstance by which the EAEU differs from the EU”, the former RA Prime Minister mentioned.
In order to understand the “fundamental difference” between the two unions according to Sargsyan, let us discuss how decisions are made in these two structures. In the Eurasian Supreme Economic Council, the decisions are adopted by the presidents of all the five countries by consensus. However, the same is true about the European Council formed by the presidents of EU member states. Similarly, the leaders of all the member states are represented here and important decisions are adopted by consensus. In case of some issues of secondary importance, the decisions may be adopted by the majority of votes. However, such issues are limited and have secondary importance.
The second most important EU body, namely the Council of the EU, is also formed by representatives of all the member states, in equal numbers and right of equal vote. Though decisions are made by majority of votes in this body, there are specially developed mechanisms in order to ensure the equality of the member states. There is the so called qualified majority voting which enables the small member states to unite and oppose the decisions of large member states, ensuring practical equality.
At the same time, the EU does not have a member state that would have a sole pressure on other member countries, like Russia in the EAEU. To compare, Germany, which is the leading country in the EU, cannot impose unilateral decisions on other EU member states as there is France, for instance, whose existence creates a balance of powers in the union.
Besides, in order to become EU members, it takes the states years to implement reforms, sign agreements, hold referendums on membership and make a voluntary decision on EU membership. If desired, they can even leave the European Union, as was the case with Great Britain. The same is not true about the EAEU. At least for Armenia, EAEU membership was a step forced by Moscow, and in no way was it a voluntary decision. It was a quickly adopted decision that was not discussed with the public at all.
Thus, the fundamental difference between the EU and the EAEU referred to by Tigran Sargsyan has nothing to do with reality. Moreover, it is a big question whether the equal number of representatives and equal vote in the EAEU really ensure equality. Equality on paper does not mean equality in real life.