The Eurasian Economic Union which officially started life on 1st January 2015 is initially to be a free trade and economic zone.The Union agreement included the road map for future integration and established the Eurasian Commission (modeled on the European Commission), which started work on 1st January 2012, providing a single market for goods, investment and labour. The Eurasian Economic Commission is the regulatory agency for the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Community. Since is conception it has become the centrepiece of Russia's near foreign policy during the third term of President Putin, who has stated that his goal is to enlarge the Customs Union to all post Soviet states, excluding the three Baltic EU member states.
The original three states of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia have since been joined by Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, with the Heads of State of these member states making up the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. Tajikistan seems likely to join within the next twelve months, and whilst Azerbaijan has also made positive noises, there remain issues surrounding the Nagorno-Karabkh dispute with Armenia. Both Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have made statements for and against the Union whilst Ukraine, having applied for observer status in August 2013, is now firmly in the grip of internal conflict, making any agreement with the Union highly unlikely within the foreseeable future.
The Eurasian Commission will be eligible to make decisions not only with regard to customs policies, but in such areas as macroeconomics, regulation of economic competition, energy and financial policy. The commission will also be involved in government procurement and labour migration control.
The headquarters of the commission is located in Moscow, with the expenses of the infrastructure and accommodation of the commission workers funded by Russia. In general the commission budget is financed by member states, dependent on the taxation share received from the Customs Union. The Eurasian Economic Commission is headed by a Chairman, appointed by the Surpeme Eurasian Economic Council, with integration being the responsibility of the Council of the Eurasian Economic Commission, composed of Vice Premiers from each of the member states. Further Commissioners are provided by each country, as agreed by the Supreme Eurasian Ecomonic Council, to carry out operational departmental management, and otherwise oversee the everyday work of the organisation.
The practical advantages of the Union are already being felt on a daily basis with citizens of the member states of the Union able to travel to other member states without the need for an international passport, and although Russia currently allows citizens of other CIS states to visit without such a passport, it is expected that at some point only Customs Union citizens will have this privilege
It is not just the member states that are feeling the benefit of a reduced bureaucracy, exporting goods into the Customs union now allows for unified documentation, based upon UGN CU product coding,and logistical freedom throughout the territories of the Union, eventually eliminating the need for further customs checks. Also expected is a future harmonisation of visa requirements allowing for a single entry document to all member states, for foreign nationals.
Economically the Eurasian Economic Union is of considerable interest to the EU in particular. As it is currently structured, the Union is the EU's third largest trading partner representing some 10.8% of its global trade. However, if the Union reaches its full potential it could see that figure increase to 15.2%, based upon existing levels of trade, and become Europe's largest trading partner ahead of both the USA and China, who claim 14.2% and 12.5% respectively.