Brief overview of relations
The Russian Federation aims to develop close and comprehensive partnership with the European Union based on the principles of equality, mutual benefit and respect for each other’s interests. Russia is the largest EU neighbour which became even closer after the Union’s enlargement in 2004, 2007 and 2013.
Russia and the EU enjoy intensive trade and economic relations. In 2015 trade with the EU accounted for 45 per cent of Russia’s total foreign trade volume. For its part, Russia is EU’s fourth largest trade partner which in 2015 accounted for 6 per cent of its foreign trade. In 2015, after visible contraction in comparison with 2013-2014, trade volume between Russia and the EU stood at 209.5 billion euros. EU companies make up a significant share of total investments to Russia. Russia firmly holds the position of key energy supplier to the EU, satisfying the EU demand for crude oil, natural gas and coal by a third.
Russia and all EU Member States are members of the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe. In view of spreading cross-border threats and challenges Russia is interested in strengthening cooperation with the European Union in countering terrorism, organised crime, illegal migration, human trafficking and illicit drug trade. Furthermore, there is obvious interest in joining efforts in mitigating the effects of climate change.
Russia seeks to maintain regular dialogue with the EU on major political issues that today’s world is facing, including the settlement of conflicts in the Middle East, Afghanistan, in the Balkans and other regions, as well as prevention of proliferation of WMD and related technologies.
The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) signed more than 20 years ago in June 1994 serves as the legal basis for Russia-EU relations. It would not be an exaggeration to state that at the turn of centuries this agreement laid down a solid legal foundation for comprehensive development of Russia-EU dialogue on a wide range of issues. It formed the basis for building close economic relations, including the prospect of a free trade area, as well as a multi-layered structure of cooperation, and established the framework for Russia-EU political dialogue.
At the Russia-EU summit in London in 2005 political agreement was reached to conclude a New (Basic) Agreement to replace the existing PCA. Negotiations on the New Basic Agreement (NBA) were launched in July 2008. 12 rounds of negotiations were held. The Russian delegation is led by the Permanent Representative of Russia to the EU Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov.
In anticipation of the resumption of the negotiations on the NBA after a lengthy pause initiated by the EU, Russia strives to place special emphasis on the need for new realities to be reflected in the future agreement, such as Russia’s accession to the WTO and the ongoing active process of Eurasian economic integration. Both Russia and the EU have undergone major political, economic and social changes since the PCA was signed. The new agreement should reflect these changes and thus provide a new quality to our relationship. The Russian side believes that the new agreement will provide a more solid legal basis for relations between Russia and the EU, confirm our shared commitment to fundamental principles of intergovernmental relations and elevate our cooperation to a higher level of partnership.
Russia-EU relations are going through challenging times. EU’s actions on the eve and in the course of the Ukraine crisis have called into question its reputation as a reliable partner of our country. Our relationship has been seriously undermined by unilateral sanctions imposed by the European Union at the expense of economic interests of both sides for the sake of promoting dubious geopolitical schemes. Events of recent months have demonstrated that burgeoning trade and economic ties between Russia and the EU have not yet attained the level of a true strategic partnership based on the principles of equality, indivisibility of security and mutual respect for each other’s interests. Obsolete confrontational stereotypes from the times of the Cold War continue to linger.
The Ukraine crisis has highlighted the urgent need to jointly elaborate a model of Russia-EU relations in the region of our “common neighbourhood” which would ensure due consideration of the interests of all parties concerned and all countries of the region, thus instead of being a source of tension, becoming an instrument of enhancing and strengthening our cooperation. We should learn from self-evident mistakes made during the implementation by the EU of its Eastern Partnership initiative, the unilateral nature of which largely provoked the current crisis. In this context much will depend on whether the EU proves ready for real substantive dialogue on harmonising the processes of European and Eurasian integration.