Europe and Russia: Building a Strategic Partnership
A key priority of the European Union is to build a strong strategic partnership with Russia based on a solid foundation of mutual respect. Russia is the EU's largest neighbour, brought even closer by the EU’s 2004 and 2007 enlargements. The 2003 EU Security Strategy highlights Russia as a key player in geo-political and security terms at both the global and regional level. Russia is a key actor in the UN Security Council and, due to history, geographic proximity and cultural links, is one of the key players in the common European neighbourhood. Russia is also a major supplier of energy products to the EU. Russia is a large, dynamic market for EU goods and services, with considerable economic growth. The EU market is by far the most important destination for Russian exports. Companies from the EU are the main investors in Russia.
Being members of the United Nations, the OSCE and the Council of Europe, the EU and Russia are committed to upholding and respecting the fundamental values and principles of democracy, human rights, the rule of law and the market economy. These values underpin the EU-Russia relationship.
The EU and Russia have an extensive dialogue on political issues around the world. Russia and the EU need to work together to combat new threats to security, as terrorism, organised crime, illegal migration and trafficking in people as well as illicit drugs. The Russian Federation is also a crucial partner in combating climate change.
The Common Spaces
At the St. Petersburg Summit in May 2003, the EU and Russia agreed to reinforce their cooperation by creating four ‘common spaces’ in the framework of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and on the basis of common values and shared interests. These common spaces are as follows:
1. The Common Economic Space aims to make the EU and Russia’s economies more compatible to help boost investment and trade. The ultimate objective is an integrated market between the EU and Russia. The bilateral agreement on Russia’s terms of accession to the WTO, which was concluded in spring 2004, is also an important milestone for EU-Russia economic relations. Energy cooperation and cooperation on the environment fall within the common economic space as development of pan-European networks of transport (e.g. motorways; rail links), energy (e.g. pipelines; links between electricity grids) and telecommunications do. The EU-Russia Energy Dialogue feeds into the development of the Common Economic Space.
2. The Common Space on Freedom, Security and Justice is a important area of cooperation between the EU and Russia, based on respect for human rights, as the two face pressing common challenges - namely terrorism, illegal migration, cross-border crime, including trafficking in human beings and illicit drugs. The EU and Russia need effective judicial and police cooperation to tackle these problems.
At the same time both the EU and Russia are convinced that the pursuit of increased security and safe borders should not create barriers to the legitimate interaction between our economies and societies. Citizens should be able to travel more easily. In the longer term, the EU and Russia hope to abolish the visa requirement altogether.
3. The Common Space on External Security aims to enhance cooperation on foreign policy and security issues, while underlining the importance of international organisations such as the UN, OSCE and Council of Europe. There is much scope for Russia and the EU to combine their efforts in conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict reconstruction. This is especially the case with regard to ‘frozen’ regional conflicts in the common neighbourhood.
4. The Common Space on Research, Education and Culture aims to promote scientific, educational and cultural cooperation, particularly through exchange programmes. These will help strengthen our combined economic and intellectual capacities while at the same time fostering people-to-people ties and better understanding among societies. An example of what can be achieved here is the decision to co-fund a European Studies Institute at MGIMO, which will provide advanced courses on the EU for Russian specialists.
The progress achieved in four Common Spaces is regularly reviewed. For progress reports click here .
The Moscow Summit in May 2005 adopted Road Maps to act as the short and medium-term instruments for the implementation of the four Common Spaces. These build on the on-going cooperation as described above, set out further specific objectives, and specify the actions necessary to make the common spaces a reality. They thereby determine the agenda for cooperation between the EU and Russia for the medium-term.
With its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the EU is seeking to reinforce relations with neighbouring countries to the east and south in order to promote prosperity, stability and security at its borders.
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