Why teaching and researching the EU in Central Asia?

As long as the integration process in Europe is in the centre of public attention, the interest of scholars towards this phenomenon is growing in the world. In the meantime, academic courses and researches focusing on that subject have lately been acquiring wider acceptance in Central Asia.

When I was a student at the Sophia-Antipolis University in France in 1998–2000, I got interested in the topic of European integration. The way the European nations lived as one united family and simplified the process of the movement of goods, work forces, services and capital across Europe had fascinated me since. I had become assured that the advancement of Europe owed much to the integration of European countries. Thus, I have started to study the historical, political, economic and legal background of the EU integration and comparing it with other examples of regional integration. Until today, my teaching and research activities have been connected with the EU Law and European Integration Studies.

Upon returning to Uzbekistan after the completion of my Master’s degree in France, where I was preliminary specialized in European Union Law, I have been trying to implement my knowledge acquired in Europe through teaching, lecturing, researching and disseminating related information.

Starting from 2005, a course “Basic European Union Law” has been introduced into the academic curriculum of the University of World Economy and Diplomacy (UWED) in Tashkent. As a next step, a new course in “Advanced EU Law” (Substantive EU law) for Master’s students of the International Law Department of UWED and Tashkent State Institute of Law has respectively been implemented within the Jean Monnet teaching module project “Teaching the EU Law” in 2011-2014.

At the moment, the grant project “Jean Monnet Chair in EU Law and Politics” is being implemented which aims at continuing the existing “Basic EU Law” course for Bachelor`s students and to implement the new interdisciplinary “EU Law and Politics” course for graduate students of the International Law Department and the International Relations Department.

These developments will enable me to synchronize similar subjects and courses to serve one common goal. The most important benefit, however, is that the project can be considered as the first stage of the institutionalization of European Studies in Uzbekistan. Eventually, it will lead to the establishment of the Center for European Studies and later to the establishment of the Institute for European Studies in Central Asia.

Besides teaching, I have been conducting research on EU studies in the past years and have been greatly supported and supervised by my colleagues. As an outcome of these research activities, about 80 articles on this subject have been published and a number of European institutions and research centres have been visited. In my personal experience, the most crucial moment was to receive a visiting research scholarship in 2013 during which I got familiar with original manuscripts of the founding fathers of Europe like Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman and others in the archives of the Foundation Jean Monnet for Europe affiliated to the University of Lausanne (Switzerland).

Why teaching and researching the EU in Central Asia? One might wonder whether it is useful to teach EU law in Uzbekistan. Certainly, it is useful for two main reasons. First of all, those who will be involved in their professional career with EU member states, should be familiar with the rules of the European Single Market and not only rules on relationships with third countries, but also the decision-making processes within the EU. Only if you understand the decision-making processes on the higher level, you can influence final decisions that are relevant for you.

Secondly, the EU is not only one of the economically most advanced regions in the world and an extremely important trading partner, but is also a historically unique model for the integration of national economies into a single market based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law. The overall result has been peace and wellbeing of the people in the Union for many decades. Being the most sophisticated regional integration system, the EU offers rich experience in developing from a customs union to a political union. Studying this experience will be helpful to find out adequate forms of institutional cooperation in Central Asia.

That is why the importance of the EU Studies cannot be overestimated within as well as outside the European Union. Different aspects of EU Studies should be studied everywhere.

Teaching and researching the EU, however, requires an adequate methodology and expertise taking into consideration local and regional particularities. Moreover, it requires communication and cooperation among teachers and researchers from within and outside the EU. It is to be highly welcomed that the SEnECA project provides an important contribution to the promotion of EU studies in Central Asia.

SEnECA Blog Contribution by Jean Monnet Chair, Dr. Khaydarali Yunusov and SEnECA team members from the University of World Economy and Diplomacy (UWED)