Journal № 2 (18) 2023 ЕАEU: today and tomorrow
– Mr. Nazarenko, technical regulation within the framework of the EAEU is defi ned as one of the important directions of the Eurasian integration of the member states of the Union. Tell us in simple words what is meant by the EAEU technical regulation system? How does the system work? Does it create additional barriers for business?

– In simple words, it is a system of barrier–free circulation of safe products in the EAEU market, which is based on the fulfillment of uniform mandatory requirements for products during their production, transportation and storage; uniform procedures for the admission of products to the sphere of circulation; ensuring the circulation of only safe products on the market; improving the quality and competitiveness of products.

The EAEU technical regulation system is a real large–scale integration project, ambitious not only in terms of the scope of economic sectors and the tightness of deadlines, but also in terms of the goals set, one of which is the formation of conditions for the further development of economies and the growth of the welfare of citizens of our states.

We have managed to create a regulatory framework for a supranational legal framework in the field of technical regulation on all issues stipulated by the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union. At the same time, the member states agreed that the technical regulations of the Union are applied in their territories "directly" – without exceptions and additional procedures.

Within ten years, a set of basic legal documents from the point of view of product safety was adopted – 52 technical regulations of the Union for a wide range of goods: from food products and goods for children and adolescents to mechanical engineering products, rail and road transport. These regulations are supported by specific interstate and national standards.

Thus, a single regulation has been established for more than 85% of products traded on the EAEU market, which provides transparent requirements for the free circulation of products on the single market, greatly simplifies doing business in the Union with ensuring a sufficient level of consumer protection from unsafe products.

– It is known that in the USSR products were manufactured according to GOST standards, and there is an opinion that at that time it was better. And now how? How much has the role of standards changed? And what position does the business of the Union countries take in promoting standards related to technical regulations?

– Over the years, there has been a special attitude of consumers to the concept of "products according to the standard". It was in the USSR, and it remains in our time. According to the standard, it means quality. And therefore, for many decades, the concept of "meeting the standard" has its positive mission.

Standardization has a direct impact on the development of industry and business. The requirements of the standards are designed to accumulate the latest achievements of science and technology, combine applied and fundamental research results, and promote the rapid implementation of scientific achievements in practice. The application of standards makes it possible to significantly optimize the costs of business operations, improve the quality and competitiveness of products, and ensure the elimination of technical barriers in mutual trade.

The role of standards at the current stage of the formation of a unified system of technical regulation of the EAEU is becoming quite clear. Standards act as a key factor ensuring the improvement of the technical level of products and the perfection of technologies, create conditions for the emergence and development of new sectors of the economy. Undoubtedly, all this should contribute to providing high-quality and safe products to consumers, increasing the level of development of both industry and the social sphere.

In the field of technical regulation, standards have their own role. Lists of interrelated standards have been approved for 45 technical regulations that have entered into force.

They contain more than 15 thousand items, including more than 10 thousand CIS interstate standards (GOST), about 4.5 thousand national standards and more than 900 different research methods.

The degree of activity in the field of standardization in various industries differs. Using the example of two significant sectors of the economy – mechanical engineering and the food industry, in which mandatory requirements are regulated by 13 regulations for each and thousands of standards are applied for their implementation, it is possible to note the different level of participation of enterprises and businesses in the creation of a modern regulatory framework.

It is important to note the higher activity of representatives of the business community and industry regulators in the food industry. Although there are a lot more regulatory framework challenges in mechanical engineering. For example, the degree of compliance of the requirements of interstate standards with international documents to the technical regulations on the safety of machinery and equipment is about 40%. And it is their degree of compliance with international requirements that is an important signal about the technical level of products and their prospects for entering foreign markets.

Problems related to the obsolescence of the CIS interstate standards fund are becoming more and more apparent, which directly affects the technical level of production and ultimately negatively affects its quality and competitiveness. In solving this problem, the role of the expert community of various industries and science is increasing. And I must say that business leaders are aware of the importance of using modern standards to meet international requirements and achievements. The percentage of standards developed on the initiative of the business community in certain industries is growing.

– What is the Commission doing today to improve the sphere of technical regulation within the EAEU and, in particular, in the field of standardization?

– The general vector of further improvement of the sphere of technical regulation is laid down in the Strategy for the Development of the Eurasian Economic Integration until 2025, approved by the heads of our states/

In the field of technical regulation, the Commission, together with the Member States, today launched systematic work to improve the law of the Union. A set of measures is envisaged for the development, signing and implementation of three international treaties and 23 acts of the EAEU aimed at improving the law of the Union and the mechanism for amending the national legislation of the member states of the Union.

As for standardization. This area, as I have already noted, is the most important component of the regulatory framework of the Union, which establishes requirements for products and methods of their testing. In order to increase the effectiveness of the development of evidence base for technical regulations, simplification and optimization of procedures for approval and updating of lists of standards related to technical regulations has been ensured.

In order to establish modern requirements, the development of procedures for coordinating standardization work in the Union and evaluating the scientific and technical level of technical regulations and lists of standards developing their provisions is being completed.

It is equally important to ensure uniform application of the adopted technical regulations in all member states of the Union. To assess the degree of implementation of technical regulations and their actual impact on business activities, it is necessary to fully involve industry, business, and consumer protection organizations in this work. This will contribute to building a mechanism in the EAEU for assessing the practice of applying technical regulations, and, as a result, improving technical regulations taking into account the experience and interests of all parties involved.

In terms of the type of standards applied, there is undoubtedly no alternative to interstate standards. But we must understand that today the interstate standardization of the CIS does not fully meet the real needs of the EAEU. To ensure compliance with the requirements established in the technical regulations of the Union, it is necessary to ensure the development of the missing GOST standards at a rapid pace.

At the same time, the programs, approved at the level of the EAEU for the development of interstate standards for technical regulations, including more than 3,000 documents, have been implemented only by 58%. We understand that in order to activate the development of interstate standards, it is important to resolve the issue of increasing funding for such work from additional sources.

To solve this problem, we are currently carrying out the necessary transformations in the law of the Union for the transition to a coordinated policy in the field of standardization aimed at implementing system planning and coordinated actions at all stages of the development of the necessary interstate standards.

There is a clear understanding that the solution of this issue, among other things, depends on the availability of organizations in the member states that are able to take over the relevant developments. We assign a special role in this regard to the National Institute for Standardization, which should become centers for developing a strategic vision for the development of standardization in the EAEU.

The Council of Heads of National Standardization Bodies, created by the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, which summarizes all problems and initiatives in the field of standardization and outlines the necessary plans and solutions, also effectively contributes to the intensification of work in this area.

– Increasing the export potential of industry and ensuring a sufficient level of product quality remain one of the most pressing issues for the economies of the Union countries. Are there strategic plans in the EAEU to implement these tasks?

– In order to be successful in the foreign market, it is not enough to meet the security requirements. It is important that the product is attractive to the consumer both in terms of functionality and quality indicators (reliability, durability, maintainability, ergonomics and aesthetics, environmental friendliness, etc.), and in terms of its cost. At the same time, it is important to take into account that the concept of "quality" has its own specifics for each market.

Unfortunately, quality has not become a category that has its own economic assessment. As before, many enterprises are limited to compliance with the mandatory requirements of technical regulations, which is a condition for market presence, but not a competitive advantage through the production of products with better characteristics at a lower cost than competitors.

In addition, for decades, various state-level measures have been taken in our countries to increase the role of quality in the development of export opportunities and competitiveness of products. And only business leaders, based, among other things, on modern methods of quality and efficiency management, successfully create enterprises that produce world-class competitive products.

Within the framework of the Union, we are faced with the task of developing a concept and creating a Eurasian Quality Assurance System (EQAS).

The EQAS is an ambitious project that should ensure the creation of conditions for improving the quality and competitiveness of allied products, the development of supranational quality assurance mechanisms, and the coordinated development of national quality infrastructures. By the end of this year, a Concept for creating a Eurasian product quality assurance system will be developed with the participation of all interested parties.

Today, in a difficult economic situation, some business breaks are being created, moratoriums on control activities are being introduced in the countries of the Union. And how are consumer rights protected? Has it been possible to create an effective system to protect the Union market from unsafe products? Is it possible for a consumer to count on a quality product today?

– Indeed, a set of measures has been taken today to increase the stability of the economies of the member States of the Union, to support business. But every decision taken in terms of deviation from the requirements of technical regulations is made with the mandatory condition of ensuring product safety and taking into account consumer protection.

- Indeed, a set of measures has been taken today to increase the stability of the economies of the member States of the Union, to support business. But every decision taken in terms of deviation from the requirements of technical regulations is made with the mandatory condition of ensuring product safety and taking into account consumer protection.

The protection of the Union market from unsafe products largely depends on the activities of state control (supervision) bodies authorized in accordance with national legislation. But today, in some member states, a moratorium has been introduced on inspections of business entities by state control (supervision) bodies.

In most of the EAEU member states, temporary bans (moratorium) on inspections of business entities have been introduced and the specifics of the organization and implementation of state control (supervision) have been established.

In countries where a moratorium has not been introduced, for example, in the Republic of Belarus, state control using a risk-based approach is carried out quite effectively. The number of product names controlled in 2022 by only one state control (supervision) body, taking into account the risk-oriented approach, is more than 50 thousand, of which 85% are imported products. Violations of the established requirements were detected in 40,522 items of products, of which 33,164 were items of imported products.

When analyzing products that do not meet the requirements of the technical regulations of the Union, the largest number of violations was found in electrical products (33.9%), followed by food products (25.3%), followed by goods for children and adolescents (15.0%). In relation to these goods, the state control (supervision) body has taken measures (withdrawal (recall) from circulation, disposal, etc.) aimed at protecting consumers.

In order to increase the effectiveness of state control (supervision) over product safety throughout the Union and in accordance with the Agreement on Principles and Approaches for State Control (Supervision) over Compliance with the Requirements of the Technical Regulations of the Union (entered into force on February 24, 2023), a mechanism for operational interaction and taking measures by state control (supervision) bodies in in relation to products that do not meet the requirements of the technical regulations of the Union, in order to prevent the circulation of such products on the market of the Union.

– And the last question. Today, the countries of the Union, just like many other countries of the world, are following the path of digitalization of their economies. Digital technologies are being introduced into various sectors of the economy. Is there a digital transformation of technical regulation processes planned in the EAEU?

– No doubt. Digital transformation is a global trend that has affected both the Union as a whole and its member countries. All this, of course, directly concerns technical regulation, because digitalization primarily affects industries, services and services with high consumer demand, as well as those areas in which business costs can be reduced through the use of new technologies.

Today, within the framework of the Union, large-scale work has been launched on the implementation of the first stage of the project "Digital Technical regulation in the EAEU". As part of the entire project, it is planned to develop a separate digital platform (a system of digital services) that would combine all areas of technical regulation: standardization, conformity assessment, ensuring the uniformity of measurements, accreditation and state control (supervision).

The designed digital platform at the first stage should ensure the fulfillment of the main function – providing interested parties with a sufficient set of data to accurately identified objects of technical regulation in a machine-readable format to ensure the design, production and launch of safe products on the market.

Why is this necessary? Already at the stage of product design, the manufacturer needs to work out the amount of information about all the requirements (mandatory and advanced) for products that currently cannot be recognized by computer systems in automatic mode, because they have a predominantly human-readable format.

Viktor Nazarenko – Member of the Board (Minister) for Technical Regulation of the Eurasian Economic Commission, Candidate of Economic Sciences.

He has extensive experience in public service and practical work in the field of industry, technical regulation, certification, metrology and quality management. He took an active part in scientific and teaching activities at the Academy of Management under the President of the Republic of Belarus, the Belarusian National Technical University and the Belarusian State Institute for Advanced Training and Retraining in Standardization, Metrology and Quality Management. He is the author of scientific papers on standardization, conformity assessment and quality management; an expert auditor on conformity assessment of a number of types of products and quality management systems. He was awarded the gratitude of the President of the Republic of Belarus. He was awarded the medals "For Labor Merits" and "For contribution to the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union". Encouraged by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus, the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus, the Ministry of Industry of the Republic of Belarus.