ALMATY/FEB. 5 2021 (The Bulletin) — The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) wants to speed up the digitalisation of labour migrants’ documents to help member states recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
At a meeting of heads of governments of EAEU member states in Almaty, Russian PM Mikhail Mishustin said that reviving labour markets, cutting down on paperwork through digital records and providing vaccines so that people can travel for work was vitally important for the bloc.
“This is a single service that you can use to find vacancies, draw up the necessary documents, including medical insurance and it will also help with the choice of housing,” he said of a digitalisation plan.
Critics of the EAEU — which has been in operation since 2015 and, alongside Russia includes Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan as members — have said that the bloc pushes the Kremlin’s agenda and that it is cumbersome, creates red tape and is slow to get things done.
They also said that the plan put forward by Mr Mishustin may be a case in point. He envisages it coming into action in 2022.
But pressure is building on the EAEU to reform and to become more nimble. At the Almaty meeting, Kyrgyz’s PM Ulubek Maripov described the need to tear down barriers that slow labour movement in the EAEU as “acute”.
Russia attracts millions of labour migrants from Central Asia each year, generating huge remittance flows. This dried up in 2020 because of the pandemic. Businesses in Russia now complain about a lack of cheap labour and in Central Asia, governments report a sharp drop in remittances.
— This story was first published in issue 471 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin
— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021