EU and Russia outline common goals ahead

The two sides aim to create an integrated market.

April 28, 2010 06:52
2 minute read.
Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk, right, and ac

Medvedev & Tusk 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

One of the EU’s primary foreign relations challenges is in finding a way to interact with its large neighbor to the east – Russia.

Current diplomacy centers around the four “Common Spaces” created at the St. Petersburg Summit of 2003, followed by a “road map,” signed in 2005, which set out short to medium range goals. The four spaces of cooperation are economic, justice, external security and research.

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Russia and the EU recently reported on progress made during 2009 in EU-Russia relations.

The overall objective of the Common Economic Space is the creation of an integrated market between the EU and Russia. The aim is to put in place conditions which will increase opportunities for economic operators and promote trade and investment.

At the EU-Russia summit of November 2009, EC President Jose Manuel Barroso and Russian President Dimitry Medvedev agreed to work together on a “Partnership for Modernization” which they hope will give a fresh impetus to the implementation of the Common Spaces.

A number of regional organizations were also considered, including the Northern Dimension, (a partnership between Russia, the Nordic countries and the Baltic states), the Council of the Baltic Sea States, the Helsinki Convention (governing environmental protection in the Baltic Sea), and the Black Sea Synergy which includes Russia and EU states surrounding the Black Sea.

Economic cooperation between the EU and Russia is seen as a key element for the greater integration of Russia into the world economy, specifically Russia’s accession to the WTO. On the other hand, protectionist tariffs and Russia’s customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan are putting a damper on those efforts. The new circumstances also reduce the possibility of a future bilateral free trade area between the EU and Russia, which is conditional upon Russia’s WTO accession.

In the field of energy, communication between the EU and Russia has been maintained at all levels. However, that did not prevent the disruption of gas deliveries to European consumers at the beginning of 2009. As a response, an enhanced early warning mechanism was agreed in November 2009, and there was no disruption at the beginning of 2010.

A particularly fruitful area of cooperation has been space exploration. The issues that have been identified by the EU and Russia as priorities for the period 2009-2010 include joint research projects in four specific areas of Earth Observation (agriculture, forestry, earthquake precursors and Arctic regions), participation of European and Russian research entities in the FP7 Space 3rd call (the EU’s mechanism for funding space research), geostationary satellites for navigation systems, as well as cooperation on space launchers and on a future crew space transportation system.

The author is the head of the International Department at GSCB Law Firm

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