Permanent Representative of Russia to the EU Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov answers a question by TASS information agency, 4 July 2018
Question: We know that you are the head of Russian delegation at the negotiations with the European Union on a New Russia-EU Basic Agreement. Work on it has been frozen. Do you believe the parties may one day return to the negotiation table?
Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov: Today, 4 July 2018, marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of negotiations on a New Russia-EU Basic Agreement (NBA). This document was supposed to replace Russia-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed back in 1994 and in force since 1 December 1997.
In 2008-2010 12 negotiations rounds were held on the NBA, approximately half of its text was agreed on. However, as time went by, events started to get ahead of the talks pace: 2009 saw the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty introducing considerable changes in the structure and functioning of the European Union. The mandate of the EU delegation to negotiate the New Basic Agreement was transferred from the European Commission to the newly established European External Action Service.
Meanwhile, the Eurasian integration process was actively developing, progressively leading to the creation of the Customs Union, followed by the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Thereby, a range of functions that were directly linked to the scope of the future agreement with the EU were transferred to a supranational level – to the Eurasian Economic Commission. All these developments resulted in a technical pause in the negotiations declared by mutual consent of the parties. Afterwards, against the background of political differences it evolved into a freeze imposed on the negotiations process on EU initiative that continues to this day.
Today it would be naive to expect to get back to the New Basic Agreement’s original conception – Russia-EU relations have undergone dramatic changes throughout the last several years. A range of new institutional factors has emerged: from now on all legal documents must reflect the status of the Russian Federation as a member of the EAEU as well as the role of its managing bodies, namely the Eurasian Economic Commission.
We would be ready to discuss modalities of re-launching negotiations to update the legal basis of Russia-EU relations should the European Union be interested in that – and, of course, after the architecture of Russia-EU cooperation that has been damaged through no fault of ours, has been re-established to its adequate level.