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Cameron, Fraser & Matta, Aaron:
Prospects for EU-Russia relations
Electronic Publications of Pan-European Institute 6/2008

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This paper has reviewed the course of EU-Russia relations and sketched out the various options to replace the PCA. It has been argued that a comprehensive new agreement would, besides linking all the aspects of cooperation, reinvigorate economic integration – envisaging practical steps to establish a FTA –, improve cooperation on energy, and add legal weight to the four common spaces. Any new agreement should also have as a very minimum the same standards referring to European values as the old PCA.

Despite the many problems, there are a number of stabilizing factors in the EU-Russia relationship. These include the need to involve Russia in diplomatic efforts to reach a solution on Iran and Kosovo as well as tackling the common problems of proliferation and terrorism. There is also much regular business transacted under the PCA, from trade and economic issues to foreign policy. One should also not under-estimate the Russian elite’s enjoyment of shopping, buying property and educating their children in Europe.

There is no doubt that the EU is a formidable actor, not least because of its huge internal market and its consumption of Russian energy supplies. This should lead to a more coherent EU energy policy, one that is based on win-win cooperation and not a zero sum game. Much will depend on public perceptions on either side. European public opinion has become increasingly sensitive about Putin and it remains to be seen how they will react to Medvedev. Whoever is in power, it is evident that there is a need for much greater information exchange and more people-to-people contacts if EU-Russia relationship is to be successful in long-term. Combating misperceptions on both sides will require considerable effort by all actors involved.

The EU has significant but limited leverage on Russia. Its powerful internal market and its consumption of Russian energy resources do give it important bargaining chips. But although its leverage its limited, the EU cannot give up on values (democracy, human rights, rule of law) as these are in the interests of both sides. The EU thus needs to use every possibility (the new PCA, WTO, Council of Europe, G8, political dialogue, business commitments) plus bilateral meetings with member states to remind Russia of its commitments. An EU-Russia relationship that did not have values at its core would be a relationship not worth having.

Download the publication in PDF format.

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