The pandemic has challenged the concept of economic globalization. Against this background, the regional format of interaction between states has entered a new phase. It is characterized by a smaller number of participants and greater ability to reach agreement, understanding of local problems and the ability to respond promptly, a similar nature of challenges and the presence of coordination mechanisms.
The primary imperative of Belarus' position is that its geographical location a priori predetermined its participation in regional integration associations. Taking into account the specificity of the country's agricultural and industrial complex, the Eurasian Economic Union meets the country's interests in terms of its goals and capabilities in the eastern vector of foreign economic policy, both at the current stage and in the future.
At the same time, the crisis that the world community encountered in 2020 has revealed weak points of all existing alliances in the world, including the EEU. The most painful of them were the late reaction to the pandemic, protectionism, which should be understood as diverting to the path of protecting only own interests. As for public sentiment, the Eurasian skepticism, as well as European one, has certainly persisted and may have intensified on certain issues. However, the main thesis of experts from different countries is that the Eurasian Union has survived. After all, even such integration "professionals" as the EU had to elaborate anti-crisis plans on the go, making mistakes and improving in difficult conditions.
There is a need to understand that the Eurasian Union member states have joined the global anti-crisis framework, taking into account local conditions and opportunities. That is why it is perceived critically in many respects. But, the main thing has been realized – only joint efforts can overcome global challenges, because today people and their interests, not economy, are at stake.
Retaining the mainstream position of Belarus seems natural. Its essence is the inevitability of deepening integration mechanisms in the post-Soviet space. Today, there is a search for a new building material of integration. The multi-level nature of associations, on the one hand, constrains the process, on the other – allows to see weak points, develop and introduce better tools to protect common interests. The potential of integration alliances is used only selectively.
In addition, the issue of the external contour of cooperation should be in constant focus. The EEU, CIS and the Union State are located at the crossroads of the most important Eurasian trade routes, and are a link between the leading economies of the West and Asia. In subsequent years, the the world's economic centre of gravity will consistently shift to Asia. At the same time, Belarus has repeatedly emphasized that the European Union will retain the status of the EEU key partner.
On the whole, the Belarusian side voiced a large number of clear imperatives and concrete proposals that were included in the "Strategic directions for the development of Eurasian economic integration until 2025" approved during the Belarusian presidency, and confirm the country's drive to enhance the consolidation of the region.