HSE Supports International Negotiations
The Higher School of Economics has been assisting with recent negotiations on Russia’s accession to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
On June 24th and 25th the Russian delegation, led by the Russian Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina, took part in a meeting of the OECD's governing Council at ministerial level and presented the "Initial Memorandum on the position of the Russian Federation on OECD legal acts"to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria.
This marked the beginning of the negotiation process for Russia's accession to the OECD. An official statement announcing the start of negotiations in autumn 2009 was also made as a result of the consultations with OECD representatives led by OECD Director for Legal Affairs Nicola Bonucci, which took place at the Russian Ministry of Economic Development on June 16th, 2009. Tatiana Meshkova, Director of the Center for Collaboration with OECD, the HSE International Organizations Research Institute, talked to us about this process.
- What does this decision mean for Russia? What are the prospects? What was the role of our university in this process?
- The HSE made a significant contribution to the process:between November 2008 and January 2009 we carried out a project for the Russian Ministry of Economic Development called ‘Analysis of the possibilities of adaptating Russian legislation to the OECD legislative base in the context of the launch of the negotiation process for Russia's accession to the OECD'. In a rather short time a lot of serious and complex work has been done, including an analysis of the OECD legal documents which regulate the OECD member states'economic relations and policies in various fields, as well as analysis of Russian legislative compliance with the OECD standards and the possibilities of Russia's acceptance of the ‘game rules'proposed by OECD.
In total, about 200 legal documents on 22 topics included in the Roadmap for Russian accession to the OECD were analyzed, concerning such issues as investment policy, public administration, corporate governance, taxation, combating bribery, environmental policy, insurance and non-government retirement insurance, foreign trade and export credits, R&D policy, employment policy as well as many others.
Experts from different HSE units took part in the work, among them the International Organizations Research Institute, Institute of Statistical Research and Knowledge Economy, Institute of Trade Policy, Center of Labour Research, Center for Corporate Governance, Center for Environmental Economy, Faculty of Economy, and Faculty of Business Informatics. In addition to this, experts from partner organizations, such as the Institute of Transitional Economy, Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Center for Trade Policy and Law were also involved in the project.
As a result, an expert version of the project of the memorandum on the Russian legislation compliance with the OECD legislative base was worked out. This version contained experts'suggestions on the statement of Russia's position on different OECD legislative tools, as well as recommendations on the terms of accession to the OECD standards, a list of exceptions and reservations, and recommendations on the projects of the Russian Federation legislative acts necessary for adjusting the Russian legislation to the OECD standards.
These documents formed the basis for further work of the Ministry of Economic Development on interdepartmental discussions, approval and adjustment of the expert positions for the preparation of the project of the official memorandum which was introduced to the OECD in this June.
- What is the scenario of the further developments?
- A lot more hard work is still to be done on discussing and approving the memorandum project in different OECD committees and workgroups. As well as this, the negotiation process includes the preparation of special surveys on different Russian policies. In particular, the OECD will soon publish a survey on the RF's social and employment policy. The publication of the 7th OECD Economic Survey of Russia is also very important:A presentation of this was held at the HSE on July 16th. The survey includes essential recommendations on measures which are necessary in our country not only to overcome the current crisis,, but in in the longer term, for the transition to an improved and sustainable model of economic growth.
According to the expectations, the negotiations will take at least two years and will anyway be finished only after Russia accesses the WTO, since WTO membership is in fact obligatory for the OECD accession.
In general, the official launch of negotiations for Russia's accession to the OECD means the start of some serious work on the adjustment of Russian legislation and political practices to international standards, as well as the necessity of not only using the best international experience, but also showing our own successful experience of modernization in various fields. In other words, Russia should be ready to co-operate with economically developed countries as a partner.
- What do you mean specifically?
- One of the important criteria of a country's participation in the OECD activities and its readiness to a full membership is the criterion of mutual benefit. This means a country's willingness to improve its national legislation and political practices in compliance with the OECD principles and values, as well as to demonstrate its own successful political experience and to offer its best practices to other countries.
The decision to launch of the negotiation process for Russia's accession to the OECD also means the start of a massive amount of work on the expansion of Russian-OECD co-operation in different fields, and the necessity of a more active and consistent participation of Russian experts in OECD activities and analytical projects.
By the way, one more important area of our Centre's activity is connected with it:specifically, constant informational and analytical support of the Russian government bodies, primarily the Ministry of Education and Science, on the issues of co-operation with OECD.
- Could you give us a more detailed overview of this area of your work?
- Initially, the main task of the Centre's activity is the analysis of international management experience, education and science development, and adequate representation of Russia in the international educational and scientific community, primarily through arranging information exchange as well as initiation and coordination of the active participation of experts from Russian universities in projects associated with OECD activities.
Since 2004, the Centre has been supporting the co-operation of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science with the OECD. In particular, the HSE has successfully coordinated Russian participation in two large OECD analytical projects on education:Subject Survey on Higher Education and Subject Survey on Equity in Education. We constantly monitor OECD projects, researches and activities in educational and research areas.
In July 2009 the HSE won a contest for realization of the project ‘Methodological and Informational Support of the Implementation of Measures for Improving the Efficiency of Russian-OECD Co-Operation in Educational, Scientific and Innovational Policies in the Context of the Task of the Russian Accession to the OECD'. A lot of work is to be done on the organization of methodological and informational support of the interaction of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science with the appropriate OECD committees and units. Its purpose will be the active use of the results of such interaction in the process of elaboration and implementation of the state scientific, innovational and educational policies.
The project will include analysis of the activities of the appropriate OECD committees and units, evaluation of the efficiency of current and potential Russian participation in them;filling out the questionnaires of the OECD committees on statistics, politics and other areas of activities in education and science;preparation of analytical surveys in the framework of Russian participation in OECD committees, as well as in the framework of the current negotiation process on Russian accession to the OECD;preparation of analytical materials for the participation of the Ministry of Education and Science representatives in the work of the appropriate OECD committees.
Taking into the account the complexity of this project, to successfully carry it out we also need to count upon co-operation with the experts of the research units of the HSE as well as partner organizations.
- How does the work on co-operation with the OECD influence the educational and research processes at the HSE?
- Despite the fact that OECD is an international organization of economically developed countries, it gives broad opportunities for research institutions, universities, civil society organizations to participate in its work. For example, members of the HSE staff regularly participate in the work of OECD committees and workgroups as experts, as well as in realizing international research projects. It is very important not only for individual experts, but for the HSE in general, since it gives access to research methodology and expertise of an international standard, as well as OECD databases, opportunities for participation in important international decisions in various areas, and gives practice of working in international research teams and networks.
In addition to this, the HSE is a participant of the OECD programme on Institutional Management in Higher Education (IMHE). In 2004-2005, as part of this programme the Higher School of Economics conducted an analysis of the HSE international development strategy. In 2007-2008 the university took part in the first stage of the IMHE project ‘Quality and Relevance of Teaching in Higher Education'. The HSE was the only Russian university among the 29 participants from 20 countries. During the implementation of this project, the participating universities presented information on different initiatives which are being implemented at their institutions. In particular, the HSE presented three initiatives:students'surveys for teachers'ranking;stimulation of the HSE teachers'research activity (‘academic bonuses');and creation and work of ‘base departments'at the HSE. These initiatives reflect different aspects of the quality of education, such as constant monitoring and improvement of teaching practices, including that based on students'evaluations;the connection of teaching with research work, the connection of educational theories with practices and the connection of education with the labour market.
Thanks to our participation in this project, the university has gained an opportunity to review its initiatives on the quality of education. We've had the opportunity to exchange experiences with participating international higher education institutions, analyze our efficiency and future potential for improving the quality of our teaching, including the active participation of teachers and students in such initiatives. We've managed to evaluate the possibilities of the integration of different initiatives on quality in the framework of the HSE long-term development strategy. The best practices of the participating universities, including our university's initiatives, will be covered in the OECD publication which is expected to come out this autumn.
By Tatiana A. Meshkova