The EU and Russia agreed at the St. Petersburg Summit of May 2003 to create in the long-term 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. Its gradual development takes place in the framework of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Biannual meetings of the EU Troika (EU Presidency together with incoming Presidency, Council and Commission) with the Russian counterparts at ministerial level monitor the overall implementation of this Common Space.
EU Policy Aims
Cooperation in this area has become a key component in the development of a strategic partnership with Russia. The scope of our cooperation has gained tremendous importance with the expansion of our common borders after the last enlargements of the EU. Our cooperation contributes to the objective of building a new Europe without dividing lines and facilitating travel between all Europeans while creating conditions for effectively fighting illegal migration. Moreover, the EU has a considerable interest in strengthening cooperation with Russia by jointly addressing common challenges such as organised crime, terrorism and other illegal activities of cross-border nature. Our 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.
Read more about Freedom, security and justice: http://www.delrus.ec.europa.eu/en/p_223.htm.
With democracy, respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law an essential element of EU-Russia relations, it is only natural that these issues are regularly discussed at all levels.
In 2005 regular, six-monthly EU-Russia human rights consultations were established. They have provided for a substantial dialogue on human rights issues in Russia and the EU and on EU-Russian cooperation on human rights issues in international fora. The EU also maintains a regular dialogue with both Russian and international NGOs on human rights issues.
Issues that the EU raises with Russia in the human rights consultations include: the human rights situation in Chechnya and the rest of 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. For its part the Russian side raises matters of concern to it in developments inside the EU.
The EU has supported the development of democracy, the protection of human rights and the development of a healthy civil society in Russia notably through the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). This has enabled the EU to work with NGOs and partners as for example the Council of Europe in fields such as: penal reform; improving the capacity of lawyers and law enforcement officials to apply the European Convention on Human Rights; combating human rights violations in the North Caucasus; human rights of conscripts in the armed forces; promoting children’s rights; promoting the rights of indigenous peoples.