Tag: economic integration

Regional Economic Development Along the Polish-German Border: 1992-2012

Image of Europe at night from sky via NASA representing regional economic development

In this brief, we summarize the results of a recent analysis focused on the regional economic development in Poland and Germany along the Oder-Neisse border (Freier, Myck and Najsztub 2021a). Economic activity is approximated by satellite night-time light intensity, a comparable proxy available for regions on both sides of the frontier consistently between 1992 and 2012. This period covers the time of economic transformation and the first eight years of Poland’s membership in the European Union. We find that convergence in overall activity across the border has been complete: Polish municipalities that used to be economically much weaker have caught up with those on the German side of the Oder and the Neisse rivers.


The question of the harmonious development of economic activity is at the heart of the European integration project (Art. 2, Treaty of Rome, 1957), and the Maastricht Treaty (1992) made economic convergence between member states an explicit objective. In a forthcoming paper (Freier et al. 2021), we take a new approach to the question of regional European integration.

This brief derives from a recent publication in Applied Economics (Freier et al. 2021a), in which we examine the degree of regional economic convergence along the German-Polish border by taking advantage of satellite night-time illumination data covering the period between 1992 and 2012. The data allows us to study detailed regional patterns of economic development along the river-delimited part of the frontier and further inland.

The seminal work by Henderson et al. (2012) was the first to use night-time light intensity data which covers the entire globe to measure economic activity. Unlike traditional regional economic indicators, light intensity data is independent of administrative border reforms and has been collected in a consistent format over the studied two decades.

Our analysis suggests that, over the analysed period from 1992-2012, there has been essentially full convergence in economic activity between municipalities on both sides of the Polish-German border. While the average value of night-time illumination in our selected group of municipalities in 1992 was 3.7 (on a scale between 0 and 63) in Poland and 7.7 in Germany, the respective values were 9.0 and 9.7 by 2012, and the latter difference is not statistically significant. This convergence suggests a much stronger rate of growth in economic activity on the Polish side of the border. Additionally, we show that within Germany, the distance to the border has much less relevance for economic activity compared to Poland, where it reflects interesting trends. In 1992, Polish towns farther from the border showed significantly higher economic performance. Within Poland, this gap has been greatly reduced over the 20 years we analyse, with regions closer to the border growing much faster compared to those farther away.

Night Lights Along the Polish-German Border

In our dataset, we include municipalities that are located within 100 km from the river delimited part of the PL-DE border. To avoid the sensitivity of the analysis to top censoring of the night-time light intensity data, we removed regional capital cities: Berlin (with surrounding municipalities), Dresden, Gorzów Wielkopolski, and Zielona Góra. This leaves us with 488 municipalities on the German side of the border and 193 municipalities on the Polish side.

The night lights data series, provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), starts as early as 1992 and continues in a consistent, comparable format to 2012. The data is independent of the administrative structures of local governments, which over time have changed on both sides of the border. This allows us to aggregate the night-time lights information for municipalities using the most recent available administrative borders. This data is essentially the only source of information on economic activity that is consistently available and comparable on both sides of the border over such a long period of time.

The night-time lights data has been applied widely as a proxy of economic development on the country and regional level (Henderson et al., 2012; Bickenbach et al., 2016). Clearly, the intensity of night-time lights does not capture the entire spectrum of economic activity. It has been pointed out that the relationship between night-time light intensity and conventional measures of economic development, such as GDP, is likely to differ depending on a region’s stage of economic development (Hu and Yao, 2019). However, we focus on mostly rural and sparsely populated areas (where there is little risk of top censoring of the data), and compare dynamics between regions that are similar in terms of their stage of economic development, geography, and weather. All these factors support the use of night lights as a proxy for regional development in our application (a number of technical steps are necessary to validate and calibrate the data for use in our analysis, see: Freier et al. 2021).

Economic Convergence Along the PL-DE Border

To understand the overall development of economic activity over the period of interest, we map the changes in the night-time light intensity in Figure 1. The colour scale on the map represents differences in light emissions between 1992 and 2012, with the range going from -40 to 40. A negative value indicates a reduction, and a positive value highlights an increase in light intensity. The negative values have been coloured in a blue-green scale (-40 to 0), while positive values in a red scale (0 to +40).

Figure 1. Night lights: changes in light intensity between 1992 – 2012 along the Polish-German border

Notes: municipalities along the PL-DE river border up to 100 km to the border; municipalities marked in grey treated as outliers and excluded from analysis due to high proportion of top-coded lights pixels in 1992; municipality borders as of 2013 (DE) and 2012 (PL). Source: GeoBasis-DE / BKG 2013, PRG 2012, DMSP OLS v4, OpenStreetMap, own calculations. For details see Freier et al. (2021).

As notable in Figure 1, the red areas are predominant. This exemplifies that between 1992 and 2012, nearly all municipalities in this area witnessed positive economic development as manifested in the intensity of night-time lights. We have a few areas that reflect negative dynamics on the German side of the border. This is mainly due to the regional implications of shutting down activity in agriculture and traditional industries as they were unable to compete with West-German technology and productivity. In Poland, green-blue areas are essentially non-existent, illustrating a universally positive economic development over the studied period. This difference in the pace of changes in light intensity between the German and the Polish side reflects a process of rapid convergence of economic development between municipalities on both sides of the border. These developments are represented in Figure 2 which shows the difference between the night-time light intensity in Germany and Poland by year and provides a test for its statistical significance. The estimation is done on mean log pixel values per municipality and clearly highlights the steep path of convergence. In the early nineties, the difference in mean light intensity was around 100 percent – i.e., the mean difference was as high as the mean level of lights on the Polish side of the border.  Already ten years later it reduced to around 50 percent and disappeared by the end of the analysed period. It is notable that, after an initial steep convergence, the difference in light intensity had a period of stagnation between 2002 and 2008. Interestingly, the full convergence which followed coincides with Poland’s entry into the Schengen agreement in December 2007. As seen in Figure 2, the difference in the average night-time light intensity between Poland and Germany was statistically insignificant and essentially zero since 2009.

Figure 2. Difference in mean night-time lights between Germany and Poland over time

Notes: Difference in log of average pixel values per municipality; year fixed effects included, weighted by municipality area; 95% CI. Source: see Figure 1.

Regional Development and Distance from the Border

Thanks to its high degree of geographical precision, the night-time lights data allows us to study the detailed spatial patterns within each country and, in particular, the relationship between distance to the border and economic activity. This is done by looking across the years 1992 to 2012 and examining three-year windows at each end of the analysed period. Our results, which are reported in Table 1, confirm a strong positive relationship between economic activity and distance to the border on the Polish side of the Oder-Neisse rivers. Overall, Polish regions farther from the border show a greater degree of economic activity, but this relationship has substantially diminished over time. While in Germany, economic activity was higher in regions farther from the border and increasing at the average rate of about 0.3% per km, this rate was about three times higher in Poland, falling from about 1.2% per km in 1992-94 to 0.6% in 2010-2012.

 Table 1. Total night-time lights along the Polish-German border, 1992-2012

Notes: Notes: municipalities along the PL-DE river border up to 100 km to the border; municipality borders as of 2013 (DE) and 2012 (PL); mean municipal total lights calculated using average pixel values per municipality and weighted by municipality area. Standard errors in parentheses, statistical significance: + p < 0.10, * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001. Source: see Figure 1.

Table 2 reports changes in light intensity between the beginning and the end of a specific period. Here, we find some interesting and perhaps disconcerting results on the relationship between the distance to the border and changes in light intensity. While the distance-to-border coefficient in the Polish case for the full period is negative, suggesting that regions closer to the border were catching up to the more developed regions farther away, the corresponding coefficient for the final three years is positive. This means that, in the years 2010-2012, economic development was faster in municipalities farther away from the border. Although the relationship is not very strong (the change in light intensity grows by about 0.1% per kilometre of distance to the border), it still suggests a reversal in the fortunes of municipalities close to the border on the Polish side. This result points towards the fact that homogeneity of development cannot be taken for granted and that physical distance might continue to play a role in determining the regional rate of growth in the future.

Table 2. Changes in night-time lights along the Polish-German border: 1992-2012

Notes: Notes: municipalities along the PL-DE river border up to 100 km to the border; municipality borders as of 2013 (DE) and 2012 (PL); mean municipal total lights calculated using average pixel values per municipality and weighted by municipality area. Standard errors in parentheses, statistical significance: + p < 0.10, * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001. Source: see Figure 1.


In this brief, we report results from a forthcoming paper (Freier et al. 2021) in which we evaluate regional development in municipalities on the German and Polish side of the Oder-Neisse border between 1992 and 2012, using night lights data as a proxy for economic activity. We find that driven by rapid growth in Polish municipalities and somewhat sluggish growth in German ones, the light intensity levels across the Oder-Neisse border show no significant differences by the end of our observation period. This is despite significant initial differences just 20 years earlier and the fact that municipalities on the German side also experienced increases in economic activity. In as far as economic development can be proxied by the intensity of night-time illumination, it seems that economic convergence between regions on both sides of the border was complete by 2012.

We also show interesting patterns regarding the relationship between economic activity and distance from the border. For Germany, this relationship is weakly positive and remains stable throughout the analysed period. In Poland, distance is strongly and positively correlated with light emissions at the beginning of the period, hence indicating that municipalities farther from the border show higher average economic activity. By 2012, however, the border regions have closed most of the gap and the distance to the border is a substantially weaker predictor of economic activity, suggesting a much more homogenous pattern of activity.


This brief draws on results reported in Freier et al. (2021a). The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the Polish National Science Centre (NCN), project number: 2016/21/B/HS4/01574. For the full list of acknowledgements and references see Freier et al. (2021a).


  • Bickenbach F, Bode E, Nunnenkamp P and Söder M (2016) Night Lights and Regional GDP. Review of World Economics 152(2): 425–47.
  • Freier, R., Myck, M., Najsztub, M (2021a) Lights along the frontier: convergence of economic activity in the proximity of the Polish-German border, 1992-2012. Applied Economics, available online: doi: 10.1080/00036846.2021.1898534.
  • Freier, R., Myck, M., Najsztub, M (2021b) Night lights along the PL-DE border 1992-2012. Dataset used in Freier et al. (2021a), Zenodo, DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.4600685.
  • Henderson JV, Storeygard A and Weil DN (2012) Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space. American Economic Review 102(2): 994–1028.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in policy briefs and other publications are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect those of the FREE Network and its research institutes.

Non-Tariff Barriers and Trade Integration in the EAEU

It is a commonly held view that the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is a political enterprise (Popescu, 2014) that has little economic meaning other than redistribution of oil rents (Knobel, 2015). With a new reality of low oil prices and reduced rents, a legitimate question is how stable this Union is, or whether there is any hope for mutual economic benefits that can provide incentives to all the participants to maintain their membership in the Union? Our answer is yes, there is hope, but only if countries, especially Russia, make progress on deep integration such as services liberalization, trade facilitation, free movement of labor and especially in the reduction of the substantial non-tariff barriers (NTBs). NTBs are hampering trade both within the Union (World Bank, 2012; Vinokurov, 2015), as well as against third country imports. Our research shows (see Knobel et al., 2016) that all the EAEU members will reap benefits from a reduction of NTBs against each other, but they will obtain considerably more substantial gains from a reduction in NTBs against imports from the EU and China.

Since the early stages of creation of the Customs Union (CU) between Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia back in 2010, the economic benefits of the CU have been questionable. The main reason for this in Kazakhstan was the increase in its import tariffs in order to implement the common external tariff of the CU, which initially was Russia’s external tariff (Tarr, 2015). Kazakhstan almost doubled its average tariff from 5.3% to 9.5% (Shepoltylo, 2011; Jondosov and Sabyrova, 2011) in the first year of its CU accession. Belarus did not increase its average tariff, but the structure of its tariffs shifted toward a protection of Russian industry.

In 2015, the CU was transformed into the EAEU, and Armenia and Kyrgyz Republic have joined the EAEU. These two countries are WTO members; Kyrgyzstan entered the WTO in 1998, and Armenia in 2001. In 2014, the simple average most-favored nation (MFN) applied tariff rate in Armenia was 3.7%, and 4.6% in the Kyrgyz Republic. Due to differences between Armenia and Kyrgyzstan’s WTO commitments and the EAEU tariff schedule, the new members of the EAEU are not implementing the full EAEU tariff schedule. That is, they have numerous exemptions. However, they have started a WTO commitments modification procedure.

Despite adverse impacts from the higher import prices from implementing the common external tariff of the EAEU in Armenia and the Kyrgyz Republic, there are potentially offsetting gains. Given the importance of remittances to the Kyrgyz Republic, the benefits coming from the right of workers to freely move and legally work inside EAEU likely dominate the tariff issues. Armenia also benefits from the free movement of labor, receives Russian gas free of export duties, and wants to preserve the military guarantee granted by Russia through the six-country Collective Security Treaty Organization.

In the case of Belarus, it receives Russian oil and natural gas free of export-duties, which, when oil prices were high, tended to dominate their calculus. Kazakhstan hopes for more FDI as a platform for selling to the EAEU market; but President Nazarbaev has expressed concerns that the EAEU is not providing net benefits to his country.

To date, the members have judged participation to be in their interest, but with the plunge in the price of oil and gas, the calculus could swing against participation in the EAEU. That is why it is so important to achieve progress with deep integration in the EAEU. One of the most important areas of deep integration for the EAEU is the substantial reduction of non-tariff barriers in goods trade, both between the EAEU members and against third countries. Estimates by the Eurasian Development Bank (Vinokurov et al., 2015) reveal that NTBs account are 15% of the value of intra-union trade flows.

In our paper, Knobel et al (2016), we estimate substantial gains to all the EAEU members from a reduction of NTBs. We employ a global computable general equilibrium model with monopolistic competition in the Helpman-Krugman style based on Balisteri, Yonezawa, Tarr (2014). Estimates of the ad-valorem equivalents of NTBs were based on Vinokurov et al (2015) for the EAEU member countries and Kee, Nicita, Olarreaga (2009) for non-members.

We find that the effects of deep integration are positive for all countries of the EAEU. Armenia’s accession to the EAEU will have a strong positive effect only if coupled with a decrease of non-tariff barriers. Armenian accession is associated with an increase in external tariffs, which causes a negative economic impact and decrease in output.

The effect of deep integration in the EAEU will be even greater if any spillovers effect reducing NTBs for EAEU’s major trading partners are present. Knobel et al. (2016) simulate a 50% decrease in “technical” NTBs inside the EAEU and a 20% spillover effect of reduction NTBs toward either the EU and USA or China. Reduction of NTBs in trade with the EU and the USA dominates the comparable reduction of NTBs with China for all countries of the EAEU in terms of the welfare gain. Armenia’s welfare gain with a spillover effect towards the EU is 1.1% of real consumption compared to 1.02% with a spillover effect towards China. Growth in welfare in Belarus will be 2.7% with a EU spillover versus 2.5% with a spillover effect towards China. Kazakhstan’s gain in real consumption is also greater in the first (EU+USA) case: 0.86% versus 0.66% (with spillover towards China). Russia’s gain in real consumption in the case of a spillover effect with the EU is 2.01% versus 0.63% in the case of China.

Summing up, our findings suggest an answer to the recent concern about stability of the EAEU. We think that eliminating NTB, hampering mutual trade, and decreasing NTBs in either European or Chinese direction could provide mutual economic benefits that could tie countries of the EAEU together, thereby giving a much needed solid economic ground for the Union.


Integration Formations in the Monetary Sphere: the Possibility and the Necessity for Monetary Integration in the Post-Soviet Region

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This policy brief addresses the possibility of monetary integration in the post-Soviet region. It provides a short overview of the literature devoted to the formation and development of the monetary unions, and argues that, based on this literature and real-world experiences, monetary integration can be of substantial value for the CIS states. However, such monetary union is not feasible in the near future due to weak economic integration of the national economies of the CIS countries, significant difference in their development level, and imbalances in allocation of bargaining power between the states. This policy brief suggests that a first step towards monetary integration could be an adoption of a supranational unit of account on the territory of the Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

The modern world has observed formation of a number of economic and monetary integration communities. Their performance varies greatly: some of them are developing successfully, others, on the contrary, are stagnating. Questions concerning the possibility of economic and monetary integration in the post-Soviet space are constantly addressed both by policymakers and by academic economists. Taking into account theoretical concepts and international experience, this brief addresses the possibility and desirability of the integration of the monetary sphere of the post-Soviet region. Based on Luzgina (2013a,b), this brief proposes a form of representation of monetary integration on the early stages of its development. In this case, an early form of monetary integration may be achieved via adoption of a single supranational unit of account on the territory of (a subset of) countries; the national currencies would continue to coexist with the new supranational currency. This approach to integration would allow preserving the independence of economic policy for the involved member states. At the same time, countries would benefit from a reduction in transaction costs and increasing convergence of national economies.

Background: Theoretical Concepts and World Experience of Monetary Integration

Ideally, the monetary union should have the form of an optimum currency area (OCA), a territory of one-currency domination with high level of integration and unification in different economic spheres. Modern economic science provides two main approaches considering the possibility of constructing an optimal currency zone on the territory of several states. The first suggests that optimality should be determined on the basis of implementing a specific group of criteria by countries. Among the main criteria, freedom of goods movement, labor and capital, openness and diversification of the economy, the synchronization inflation rates as well as integration in the financial sector can be mentioned. The second approach is based on a comparison of the benefits and costs in terms of the monetary union formation of the country with the highest economic potential. In practice, when studying the effectiveness of monetary integration, a synthesized approach is used. It includes evaluating by criteria, as well as taking into account costs and benefits that a country accrues in case of entering a particular monetary group. The main benefits of a monetary union include a reduction of transaction costs, trade relations enlargement, improving the discipline in the monetary sphere, and a reduction of the rate of international reserve sufficiency for every country-member. At the same time, there are some negative aspects of deep integration, such as loss of monetary policy independence, economic imbalances in case of weak convergence of national economies, loss of (part of) seigniorage income, and a possible negative public reaction to the adoption of a single currency.

When discussing the concept of monetary integration, it is important to understand the distinction between a monetary union and an optimum currency area. A monetary union is one of the most developed forms of a currency area, which implies a rigid anchor of national currencies to each other with a possible further transformation into the currency of the leading country, or to a single supranational currency (as in the case of the European Union). In this case, a monetary union can be formed of asymmetrical economies. Instead, the optimum currency area requires mandatory implementation of the main convergence criteria, and thereby, more symmetry/alignment among the members. Thus, a monetary union does not necessarily have to be an optimum currency area, while the optimum currency area has every opportunity to be transformed into a full-fledged monetary union [1].

Historically, there have been several examples of monetary union formations. The Italian monetary union (1862-1905), which was formed through the merger of disparate Italian lands, is among them. We can also identify the Scandinavian Monetary Union, which united Norway, Denmark and Sweden (1875-1917). The Austro-Hungarian monetary union existed in the period from 1867 to 1914. Currently, we observe formations of monetary unions in Africa, Latin America and the Arab states.

Despite the implementation of a number of integration projects within the various groups of countries over the past century, only the European states were able to achieve the highest form of monetary integration. It took them more than 50 years to do this, and the integration processes in the economic and monetary fields are continuing with new Member States joining the European Union. However, despite the detailed development plans for the implementation of a monetary union, the Eurozone countries face a number of difficulties and obstacles on the path of economic development. European monetary integration brings not only benefits, but also some costs. For example, the loss of independence of monetary policy creates obstacles in regulations of economic processes.

This discussion suggests that an assessment of the potential formation of a monetary union – that is, of desirability, feasibility and level of monetary integration within a particular group of countries – should be based on relating theoretical concepts and features of the countries in question, as well as a in-depth research of the experience of other currency unions.

Integration Processes in the Post-Soviet Space

At the territory of the former Soviet Union, integration projects have been implemented for more than 20 years. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, such integration formations as the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Eurasian Economic Community were created. Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia have built a Customs Union (CU) and a Common Economic Space (CES). There is also a possibility of making a transition to the highest form of integration – a monetary union. However, this raises a number of questions: which CIS countries should join a monetary union, when should this be done, and what is the optimal form of monetary union for integrating countries.

Luzgina (2013b) shows that, within the framework of the CIS countries, that there are significant differences in many of the macroeconomic indicators. Countries differ in terms of GDP and the growth rates of investment and prices. For example, Belarus has the highest inflation in the post-Soviet region. The source of growth also differs: for example, a number of countries, such as Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan, owe a significant part of their economic growth to the availability of natural resources, but this is not universally true within the CIS. Dynamics of population income is also significantly different among the countries. Here, Russia occupies the leading position with its average wage at the beginning of 2012 reaching 780 USD. At the same time, in Tajikistan, the average wage amounts to only 110 USD.

Another concern is that the formation of an economic and monetary union implies free movement of labor and capital. However, at this stage of development, it can lead to some negative consequences. Free movement of labor could involve a massive flow of labor from depressed areas to regions where incomes are much higher. This may create pressure on health and social services in the latter regions. In turn, free movement of capital may cause speculative attacks on the financial markets. At the same time, the CIS countries, except Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, do not have large gold reserves. Therefore, the free movement of capital flows without additional support may cause a crisis within the national financial systems. Out of all the gold reserves of the CIS countries, more than 85% of the total volume is owned by Russia. In the case of an abolition of restrictions on capital flows, countries that are exposed to speculative attacks are likely to ask Russia for help. Such a situation would require Russia to use its own financial resources, which would create an additional pressure on its international reserves.

Table 1. International reserves in the CIS countries, (million US dollars)









































Note: The author’s own calculation based on data from the World Bank

Russia is leading among the CIS countries in terms of population and territory, with other countries lagging substantially behind. For example, Belarus owns less than 1% of the total territory of the CIS countries and less than 4% of the population.

Relying on the above quantitative indicators it is natural to expect that in case of a formation of a monetary union with a single emission center, the distribution of votes in the decision-making of the development and implementation of monetary policy is likely to be unequal. The leading role would likely belong to Russia, which has the largest economic potential. However, other countries in this case may be in a less advantageous position as Russia’s decisions may lead to undesirable consequences for the economies of other countries, given the lack of a sufficient degree of synchronization of national economic systems.

Thus, a weak degree of economic integration of the national economies of the CIS countries, different levels of development, as well as the superiority of the economic potential of Russia over the other states gives reason to argue for a non-feasibility of monetary integration within the CIS countries in the short term.

On the other hand, it may be reasonable to consider the possibility of integration in the monetary sphere on the basis of the most economically integrated countries, namely Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. These countries have created a Customs Union and are implementing a project of forming a Common Economic Space. There are plans of creating the Eurasian Economic Union. In addition, based on the experience of European countries, it might be easier to start the integration within a limited number of participants, which satisfy the required convergence criteria. Later, more countries may enter the monetary union.

Prospects for Monetary Integration of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia

Taking into account the experience of the European Union, we note the need for close trade and technological relations, as well as a market type of economy, and unification of the legislation in the economic sphere. Some of these elements of monetary integration are observed within the CU. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, economies of the former Soviet states switched to paths of market reforms. In addition, the CU countries have rather close trade relations; they have restored the old and created new means of communication. At the same time, there is a weak degree of diversification of exports and imports. A large part of export and import are represented by raw materials.

The second important point of the monetary integration is the comparability by size of the emerging economies. In the framework of the Customs Union, Russia is the only leader. Harmonization of relations between the alliance partners would be easier in the case of smaller countries coordinating their efforts, which would allow them to defend their interests along with the large member-states.

Finally, obligatory condition of monetary integration is the fulfillment of convergence indicators (certain values of macroeconomic indicators) by all association members. In Luzgina (2013b), we compare a range of such indicators, as based on the experience of the European Union. We use indicators such as the inflation rate, public debt, budget deficit, and the dynamics of exchange rates for comparison. The study reveals that the main differences lie in the monetary indicators, namely the rate of inflation and exchange rate. In addition, there are certain differences in the structure of the economy and the share of private ownership in GDP.

Figure 1. Exchange Rate (average for a year), as % of the previous year
Figure 2. Industrial Producer Price Index (average for a year), as % of the previous year
Source: Data of the Interstate Statistical Committee of the Commonwealth of the Independent State

The persistence of significant differences in the values of convergence indicators at the macro level makes a full-fledged monetary union highly unlikely in the short term, even within the framework of the three most economically integrated states. At the same time, it is appropriate to consider the option of monetary integration in its mild form, i.e. in the form of monetary integration on the basis of a single unit of account. A single unit of account is usually calculated on the basis of the basket of national currencies, and is mostly used for international payments and credits.

The attractiveness of monetary integration in the form of monetary union on the basis of a supranational unit of account is motivated; first of all, by the preservation of the economic sovereignty of all countries. Circulation of the unit of account would take place in parallel with national currencies. Member states would retain the possibility of implementation of independent monetary and fiscal policies. Furthermore, the unit of account may fulfill the role of a training tool. The supranational payment unit can be used on the national level. Using this unit of account, legal entities may carry out transactions and individuals may hold their savings. It can also be actively implemented in the inter-state calculations. A part of gold and forex reserves of member countries can be held in the supranational unit of account. Inter-state loans can be issued in this unit as well. This type of monetary union would reveal the feasibility of further deepening of integration in the monetary sphere and determine the timing of the formation of a full-fledged monetary union. In case of serious problems, the dismantling of the currency union will not cause major adverse changes in national economies, unlike in the case of a collapse of a monetary union with a single currency. In addition, the operation of a single unit of account allows for the anticipation of potential problems associated with the functioning of economies under a single monetary system, and a solution before the introduction of a supranational currency.

Last, but not least, this form of integration seems to be a relatively feasible option as the process of convergence on the territory of the CU countries in the monetary sphere has already begun. There is an increased use of national currencies in bilateral trade, harmonization of national legislation is taking place in the monetary sphere, and international agreements in the monetary sphere are ratified. These activities are gradually building a base for the realization of the monetary integration project of the union countries.


Economic and monetary integration allows the countries to get the maximum benefit from mutual cooperation. However, the deepening of the integration process is usually accompanied by certain difficulties. Convergence of economic systems requires transformation of economic institutions, changes in legislation and principles of management, all of which are costly to achieve. The better the preliminary harmonization is performed, the easier the process of adaptation of national economies to function within a particular economic and monetary union will be.

The post-Soviet countries are implementing several projects of economic integration. However, their economies have major differences according to a number of macroeconomic indicators. The greatest degree of convergence is reached only by three CIS states, namely Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan. Rather high level of economic integration, as well as a continuation of the process of unification and harmonization of national economies allows us to study the feasibility of realizing the lightweight form of a monetary integration based on a single supranational unit of account on the territories of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.


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