The EU and world powers: EU – Russia relations

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №2 - 2011

Author: Mantel Renata, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan

The EU and Russia cooperation is based on a number of challenges at international level and common neighborhood, common interests and shared values. The most important issues are climate change, drug and human trafficking, organized crime, counter - terrorism, non - proliferation, etc.

When in recent decade journalists and political observers characterized relations between Russia and the European Union as being in crisis, Moscow and Brussels objected with energy. As evidence they suggested to analyze the results of biannual summits. Each summit produced a document signifying or mentioning the striving to make a step forward. During the period leading up to the signing of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in 1994, and its ratification in 1997, both sides took the position that Russia would gradually continue its "Europeanization" according to the Brussels recipe, but without the eventual prospect of EU membership. A lot has changed since then. The EU has doubled in size and run into management problems. Russia has ceased to depend on external financing and is no longer open to models of governance offered from beyond its borders, and integration is connoted as an exchange of interests among equals.

The relations of individual member states of the European Union and Russia are various, though a common foreign policy outline in the 1990s towards Russia was the first EU foreign policy of this kind agreed. Furthermore, four European Union-Russia Common Spaces were agreed as a framework for establishing better relations.

Now Russia is the EU’s third biggest trade partner, with Russian supplies of oil and gas making up a large percentage of Russia’s exports to Europe. According to the results of the St. Petersburg Summit in May 2003, the EU and Russia agreed to reinforce their ongoing co-operation by creating, in the long term, 4 specific policy areas. These “common spaces”, cover economic issues and the environment; Freedom, Security and Justice; External Security; and Research and Education, including cultural aspects.

Over the past 15 years, the EU and Russia have developed a dense network of political institutions and diplomatic contacts. The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement created the legal foundation of EU-Russia relations. In the framework of the Four Common Spaces, Brussels and Moscow have conducted a large number of dialogues and working groups in the fields of economic, security and cultural relations since 2005. Economic interdependence has grown stronger as well, with the EU becoming Russia’s most important foreign trade partner, and Russia becoming the EU’s largest energy supplier.

Now I would like to have a closer look at these concepts.

Since the financial crisis of 1998 Russia has gone a long way on the road of growth and economic stability. After a decade of economic and social dislocation, Russia established a more stable and predictable political environment and created a respectable record of economic growth, macroeconomic stabilizations and policy reforms. Russia’s energy supplies can help to enhance Europe’s energy security. From its part, the European Union supports the integration of Russia into the world economic system and Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization. In this context, the EU also fully supports the ongoing reform of the Russian economy, with its aims of increasing performance and efficiency as well as diversification and broadening its manufacturing base.

In November 2002 a “market economy status” was given Russian exporters being a symbol of the country’s successful steps towards transition to a fully-fledged market economy.

Now the European Union and the Russian Federation also have a long trade relationship history with Russia being one of the EU's important trading partners.

In May 2003 St. Petersburg hosted a Summit of the EU and Russia dedicated to the issues of reinforcement of cooperation by creating four “common spaces” of common interests as part of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. These are the following:

1) The Common Economic Space, covering economic issues and the environment;

2) The Common Space of Freedom, Security and Justice;

3) The Common Space of External Security, including crisis management and non-proliferation;

4) The Common Space of Research and Education, Including cultural aspects.

The Common Economic Space (CES) was created to answer the new demands for a more open and integrated market between European countries and Russia. The main objective of the CES is to enable increased and diversified trade and creating new investment opportunities by pursuing economic integration, elimination of trade barriers, regulatory convergence, market opening, trade facilitation and infrastructure development by closer co-operation, exchange of information and sharing of best practices. Working towards regulatory convergence will allow economic agents to operate subject to common rules in a number of fields throughout the enlarged EU and Russia, which represent a market of around 600 Million consumers.

Common Economic Space is significantly presented by cooperation in the field of energy. This relationship can be characterized as “mutual interdependence of supply, demand, investment and know-how” (EEAS Website 2010). There is no pint to wonder about it as Russia is the most significant producer and exporter of natural gas and, together with Saudi Arabia, oil in the world. Russia disposes of more than 20% of the gas reserves and 5% of proven oil reserves. According to the data provided by the EEAS Website (2010) the “share of the energy and metals sector in the Russian economy is around 20% while it employs only 2% of the total labor force”. As natural gas is the largest export issue, it is delivered to Europe with the help of 12 pipelines: 3 of them direct (to Finland, Estonia and Latvia), four through Belarus (to Lithuania and Poland) and five through Ukraine (to Slovakia, Romania, Hungary and Poland).

The Russian energy supply for reasonable prices contributes to European economic growth, and the money paid for it is a push to Russian current economic growth. Thus there is an evident mutual interest in a close energy partnership between the EU and Russia.

EU exports to Russia vary, including almost all types of machinery and transport equipment (42.9%), manufactured goods, food and animals.

According to the European Commission Website (2010) EU services exports to Russia in 2009 made up €18.2 billion and EU services imports from Russia 2009 were €10.8 billion.

The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA, signed in 1994, entered into force on 1 December 1997) was an important part of the EU-Russia relationship for about 10 years regulating their political and economic cooperation serving as a foundation for the EU's bilateral trade with the Russian Federation. One of its main purposes is the development of trade and investment between the two states.

Another issue concerning the economic relations between EU and Russia is the question of Russia's membership in WTO. The point is actively supported by the EU representatives and viewed as a qualitatively new stage in economic relations of the parties.

In 2005 an EU-Russia Environmental Dialogue was opened to introduce the environmental issues to the EU-Russia Common Economic Space road-map. The first step in this direction in October 2006 was the Permanent Partnership Council (PPC) meeting on Environment held in Helsinki. The Environment Dialogue includes “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Nature Protection, Water and Marine Issues, Forestry Law Enforcement, Cleaner Production and Pollution Control, and Environmental Impact Assessment of Environmental Policies” (HES II - Russia Website 2010) with EU-Russia Subgroups functioning in each of these areas. A new work program for the Sub-Group on Convergence and “Harmonization of Environmental Standards cooperation project (HES II) are currently under development.

Cooperation on environment is also carried out in the context of the Northern Dimension regarding challenges and questions concerning Northwest Russia, the Baltic Sea and Arctic Sea region. The main objective is “to strengthen dialogue and cooperation between the EU, its member states and the northern countries including Russia, Norway and Iceland. The policy framework for the Northern Dimension from 2007, was adopted by the November 2006 EU-Russia Summit” (HES II - Russia Website 2010). The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) is an example of efficient cooperation between the European Commission, some of EU Member States, Russia, Norway and IFIs (EBRD, EIB, NIB, World Bank).

One more result of the St. Petersburg Summit of May 2003 was creation of a “Common Space on Freedom, Security and Justice”. A road map agreed in 2005 sets out the objectives and areas for cooperation in the short and medium term. According to the EEAS Website (2010) there are 5 priority areas for enhancing EU-Russia cooperation:

- “Strengthening dialogue and cooperation on the international scene;

- The fight against terrorism;

- Non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, strengthening export control regimes and disarmament;

- Cooperation in crisis management;

- Cooperation in the field of civil protection”.

Strategic partnership in this area has become a key issue in the scope of cooperation between Russia and EU contributing to the objective of jointly addressing common challenges of illegal activities of cross-border nature. This cooperation, “carried out on the basis of common values such as democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, must reflect the necessary balance between Security, on the one hand, and Justice and Freedom, on the other” (Delrus Website 2010).

Human rights protection is another important point of the EU-Russia cooperation discussed during the regular six-monthly EU-Russia human rights consultations. Issues raised by EU include the human rights situation in the North Caucasus, “including torture and ill-treatment; freedom of expression and assembly, including freedom of the media; the situation of civil society in Russia, notably in light of the laws on NGOs and extremist activities; the functioning of the judiciary, including independence issues; the observation of human rights standards by law enforcement officials; racism and xenophobia; legislation relating to elections” (Lukyanov 2007). Most of the vital issues such as the development of democracy, protection of human rights and civil society in Russia were supported by the EU through the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).

External Security issues represent the shared responsibility for an international order based on “effective multilateralism, their support for the central role of the UN, and for the effectiveness in particular of the OSCE and the Council of Europe” (Mardell 2007). This will help to answer the questions on security and crisis management so that it might be possible to face global and regional challenges, notably terrorism and the struggle against of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Special attention is paid to providing the stability in the regions bordering with Russian and EU (as an example may serve the "frozen conflicts" in Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh).

As stated by Professor Liuhto (2004) research and development, education and cultural issues are aimed to contribute to political, social and economic stability in Russia, in the region and worldwide. At the St. Petersburg Summit in May 2003 it was agreed to establish a Common Space of Research and Education, Including Cultural Aspects in mutually agreed priority fields. Objectives are to create favorable conditions, corresponding to the interests of both parties, aimed at:

- “structuring a knowledge-based society in the EU and Russia;

- promoting a high rate of competitiveness and economic growth by modernization of the national economies and implementation of advanced scientific achievements;

- strengthening and optimizing the links between research and innovation;

- maintaining small and medium size entrepreneurship in the field of research and innovation” (EEAS Website 2010).

In February 2007 a Joint Working Group was created in Moscow in order to develop a plan of action for Russia-EU cooperation in the sphere of cultural projects. On May 7, 2007 the Joint Working Group Statute was signed. In February and September 2007, cultural cooperation issues were discussed during the Joint Working Group sessions in Moscow and Brussels. By that time Russia had prepared a document defining the main approaches to the Russia-EU cooperation in the sphere of culture regarded as the fourth “road map”. Its development is carried out within the framework of existing international forums, such as UNESCO, the Council of Europe, etc, to achieve common interests, goals and values.

In the area of education the maim aims are to adopt comparable higher education degrees with a three-tier “bachelor-master-doctorate” education system; introduce an ECTS system, promote academic mobility and life-long learning; increase students adaptation to labor market demands and make the higher education systems in Russia and EU more attractive.

In the area of culture the objectives are to promote a structured approach to cultural cooperation between the enlarged EU and Russia, to enhance the European identity on the basis of common values and to develop cooperation between the cultural industries of the EU and Russia.

All these objectives are impossible to achieve without direct, open and uninterrupted dialogue.

Economic and political relations between the European Union and the Russian Federation develop in quick rates, and instant changes and challenges are inevitable. Much still has a long way ahead for improvement. Much is caused by the mutual lack of understanding, though there is a strong eagerness to cooperate from both sides. The present situation is currently under the development process, and many state and NGO institutions seek to address the mutual trust by bringing together all interested parties from the areas of politics, business and civil society to the dialogues. The issues discussed are of crucial importance to the development of better EU-Russian partnership. A good example of such organization striving after overcoming the misunderstanding between the EU and Russia and creating a more constructive dialogue is the “Dialogue Platform: Brussels – Moscow” (DP: B-M). Dialogue Platform: Brussels – Moscow aims to address common values and challenges where a joint approach can be beneficial for both parties represented. DP: B-M offers the unique opportunity to discuss EU-Russia relations openly and at a senior expert level.

The main priorities of the organization management are independence and credibility based on free and unbiased approach being politically and financially independent from any government body. The objectives are to “nurture an atmosphere of mutual trust to enable a frank dialogue that helps advance EU-Russian relations and has practical relevance for all participants and produce insightful discussion reports targeted at decision-makers and aimed at revitalising ongoing debates on the major issues affecting the EU and Russia” (Dialogue platform Brussels-Moscow Website 2010).

The topics chosen for the discussion during the dialogue undergo wide consultation and have to concern the current political and economic situation. DP: B-M is supported by an Advisory Council of experts in the field of the EU-Russian relations. The timeline of its sessions is depicted on Picture 1 (Dialogue platform Brussels-Moscow Website 2010).

Picture 1. Timeline of the Dialogue platform Brussels-Moscow

Such organizations contribute to the mutual understanding between the interested parties. Their impact is enhanced by the fact that they are politically and economically independent from any governmental institutions and, consequently, do not undergo any ideological pressure. The themes discussed during the meetings are up-to-date, enable the understanding of people without political background and, subsequently, promote transparency.

Another good example of cooperation between the European Community and Russian Federation in the sphere of political relations is the Delegation of the EU to Russia. Its role is to be a proper reflection of all political events concerning the partnership between the two sides, changes and movements in the scope of Russia´s political stage that are of direct importance to the development process of the strategic partnership between the EU and the Russian Federation. Objectives are not only to support it, but also to create favorable conditions in order to enable the process. Therefore the Delegation monitors and analyzes political life all over Russia, the level of democracy and human rights protection there. One more analysis and monitoring issue are “Russian policies and their implementation in the area of justice, liberty and security; as well as the range of Russian foreign (and defense) policy” (European Commission Website 2010).

The Delegation used to represent only the European Commission, but now it is a kind of an embassy of the whole European Union, and as such “plays a key role in fostering and furthering the EU-Russia strategic partnership at political level” (European Commission Website 2010).

Russia is a beautiful country rich in history and culture that cannot be overlooked. If we look at the history of Russia´s development, it is obvious that by origin and culture it is a European country but similar to the USA or Canada at the same time. So it is something different, which has its own unique features. Thus it would be logical for Russia to be aspiring after the closer cooperation with the European states. Russia has always been and will always be a part of the European community. The only problem for Russia is the fact that it has alienated itself from the rest of the European community since the Communist Revolution. However, behind closed doors of the Iron Curtain down deep in the hearts and souls of all Russians there is a strong desire to be fully accepted by the European Community as a permanent member.

The Soviet Union was a trade of one extreme dictatorship to another for most European states. Even under a critical analysis one must distinguish between the Soviet State and Russian State since they are very different. Right now Russia is aiming for a legitimate stance in world politics, and its striving after mutually advantageous cooperation with the European Union member countries is one of the most significant steps towards the designed goal.

The eighteenth Russia-EU summit that took place on November 24, 2006 in Helsinki, and, as mentioned by Avdeev (2009), together with the subsequent summits in Samara (Russian Federation), Maffe (Portugal), Khanty-Mansiisk (Russian Federation), Nice (France) and Khabarovsk (Russian Federation) proved that Russia-EU interaction is a truly strategic one, and their mutual interest lies in the development and deepening of that cooperation.


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Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №2 - 2011

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