Russia–European Union relations

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from EU-Russia Common Spaces)
Jump to: navigation, search
Russia-European relations
Map indicating locations of EU and Russia

European Union


Russia-European relations are the international relations between the supranational European Union (EU) and its largest bordering state, the Russian Federation, to the east. The relations of individual member states of the European Union and Russia vary, though a 1990s common foreign policy outline towards Russia was the first such EU foreign policy agreed. Furthermore, four European Union-Russia Common Spaces are agreed as a framework for establishing better relations.

Issues in Eastern Europe[edit]

2009 gas dispute[edit]

After the Russia–Ukraine gas dispute of 2009 the reputation of Russia as a gas supplier had been damaged.[1] After a deal was struck between Ukraine and the EU on 23 March 2009 to upgrade Ukraine's gas pipelines[2][3] Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin threatened to review Russia's relations with the EU. "If Russia’s interests are ignored, we will also have to start reviewing the fundamentals of our relations", Putin stated.[4] According to Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko the plan appeared to draw Ukraine legally closer to the European Union and might harm Moscow's interests.[3] The Russian Foreign Ministry called the deal "an unfriendly act" (on March 26, 2009).[5]

Professor Irina Busygina of the Moscow State Institution for Foreign Relations has said that Russia has better relations with certain leaders of some EU countries than with the EU as a whole because the EU has no prospect of a common foreign policy.[6]

2013 Vilnius Summit[edit]

The run-up to the 2013 Vilnius Summit between the EU and its eastern neighbours saw what The Economist called a "raw geopolitical contest" not seen in Europe since the end of the Cold War, as Russia attempted to persuade countries in its "near abroad" to join its new Eurasian Union rather than sign Asssociation Agreements with the EU.[7] The Russian government under president Putin succeeded in convincing Armenia (in September) and Ukraine (in November) to halt talks with the EU and instead begin negotiations with Russia.[8] Nevertheless the EU summit went ahead with Moldova and Georgia proceeded towards agreements with the EU despite Russia's opposition.[9] However this led to widespread protests of the Ukraine that eventually toppled the Ukrainian President in February 2014.

Ukrainian crisis and Russian influence in Europe[edit]

Following the collapse of the pro-Russian regime in the Ukraine, Russia began a military intervention of Ukraine by building up its forces already in Crimea, as well as on the Ukrainian borders. This action was condemned as an invasion by EU leaders. The EU imposed some visa bans and asset freezes against some Russian officials.

The Kremlin was accused of forming close ties with Eurosceptic parties, belonging to the far-right and far-left, to divide the EU on the Ukrainian crisis and 2014–15 Russian military intervention in Ukraine. By the end of 2014, a number of European far-right parties were accused of receiving financial or organisational support from Russia in an attempt to build a common anti-European and pro-Russian front in the European Union. Among the parties involved were Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), Alternative for Germany (AfD), National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), French National Front, Hungarian Jobbik, Bulgarian Attack (Ataka), Latvian Russian Union.[10][11] Luke Harding wrote in The Guardian that the Front National's MEPs were a "pro-Russian bloc."[12] In 2014, the Nouvel Observateur said that the Russian government considered the Front National "capable of seizing power in France and changing the course of European history in Moscow's favour."[13] According to the French media, party leaders had frequent contact with Russian ambassador Alexander Orlov and Marine Le Pen made multiple trips to Moscow.[14] In November 2014, Marine Le Pen confirmed a €9 million loan from a Russian bank to the Front National.[15] The Independent said the loans "take Moscow's attempt to influence the internal politics of the EU to a new level."[16] Reinhard Bütikofer stated, "It's remarkable that a political party from the motherland of freedom can be funded by Putin's sphere - the largest European enemy of freedom."[17] Boris Kagarlitsky said, "If any foreign bank gave loans to a Russian political party, it would have been illegal, or at least it would have been an issue which could lead to a lot of scandal" and the party would be required to register as a "foreign agent."[18] Le Pen denied a Mediapart report that a senior Front National member said it was the first installment of a €40 million loan.[16][15][19] The Financial Times and Radio Free Europe reported on Syriza's ties with Russia and extensive correspondence with Aleksandr Dugin, who called for a "genocide" of Ukrainians.[20][21] The EUobserver reported that Tsipras had a "pro-Russia track record" and that Syriza's MEPs had voted against the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement, criticism of the Russian annexation of Crimea, and criticism of the pressure on civil rights group Memorial.[22] The Moscow Times stated, "The terms used in Russia's anti-Europe rhetoric also seem to have infiltrated Tsipras' vocabulary."[23]

Two new organisations — European Centre for Geopolitical Analysis and "Agency for Security and Cooperation in Europe" (ASCE) — recruiting mostly European far-right politicians were also heavily involved in positive public relations during the 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine, observing Donbass general elections and presenting pro-Russian point of view on various events there.[24][25] In 2014 a number of officials in Europe and NATO provided circumstantial evidence that protests against hydraulic fracturing may be sponsored by Gazprom. Russian officials have on numerous occasions warned Europe that fracking "poses a huge environmental problem" in spite of Gazprom itself being involved in shale gas surveys in Romania (and not facing any protests) and aggressively reacted to any criticism by environmental organisations.[26]

In March 2015 the nationalist party Rodina organized International Russian Conservative Forum in Saint Petersburg, inviting majority of its far-right and far-left (including openly neonazist) supporters from abroad, many of them earlier visiting similar event in Crimea in 2014: Udo Voigt, Jim Dowson, Nick Griffin, Jared Taylor, Roberto Fiore, Georgios Epitidios (Golden Dawn) and others.[27][28]


The EU is Russia's largest trading partner by far with the EU accounting for 52.3% of all foreign Russian trade in 2008 and 75% of foreign direct investment (FDI) stocks in Russia also come from the EU. The EU exported €105 billion of goods to Russia in 2008 and Russia exported €173.2 billion to the EU. 68.2% of Russian exports to the EU are accounted for by energy and fuel supplies. For details on other trade, see the table below;[29]

Direction of trade Goods Services FDI Total
EU to Russia €105 billion €18 billion €17 billion € 140 billion
Russia to EU €173.2 billion €11.5 billion €1 billion €185.7 billion

Russia and the EU are both members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The EU and Russia are currently implementing the common spaces (see below) and negotiation to replace the current Partnership and Co-operation Agreement to strengthen bilateral trade.[29]



The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad Oblast has, since 2004, been surrounded on land by EU members. As a result the Oblast has been isolated from the rest of the federation due to stricter border controls that had to be brought in when Poland and Lithuania joined the EU and further tightened before they joined the Schengen Area. The new difficulties for Russians in Kaliningrad to reach the rest of Russia is a small source of tension.

In July 2011 the European Commission put forward proposals to classify the whole of Kaliningrad as a border area. This would allow Poland and Lithuania to issue special permits for Kaliningrad residents to pass through those two countries without requiring a Schengen visa.[30]


Russia has a significant role in the European energy sector as the largest exporter of oil and natural gas to the EU. In 2007, the EU imported from Russia 185 million tonnes of crude oil, which accounted for 32.6% of total oil imports, and 100.7 million tonnes of oil equivalent of natural gas, which accounted for 38.7% of total gas imports.[31]

Siberian flights[edit]

There have been agreements on other matters such as the withdrawal of taxes on EU flights over Siberia.

Meat from Poland[edit]

Further problems include a ban by Russia on Polish meat exports (due to allegations of low quality and unsafe meat exported from the country[32]), which caused Poland to veto proposed EU-Russia pacts concerning issues such as energy and migration; an oil blockade on Lithuania; and concerns by Latvia and Poland on the Nord Stream pipeline.[33] In 2007 Polish meat was allowed to be exported to Russia.

2014 Russian food embargo[edit]

Announced August the 6th, 2014 by President Putin. [34]

Partnership and Co-operation Agreement[edit]

The Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA), signed in June 1994 and in force since December 1997, provides a political, economic and cultural framework for relations between Russia and the EU. It is primarily concerned with promoting trade, investment and harmonious economic relations. Russian exports to the EU have very few restrictions, except for the steel sector. A replacement agreement has been under negotiations since 2008 and following that and WTO entry, a more detailed agreement will be negotiated.

The Four Common Spaces[edit]

When the European Union unveiled its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), Russia chose not to join and aspires to be an "equal partner" of the EU (as opposed to the "junior partnership" that Russia sees in the ENP). Consequently, Russia and the European Union agreed to create four Common Spaces for cooperation in different spheres. In practice there are no substantial differences (besides naming) between the sum of these agreements and the ENP Action Plans (adopted jointly by the EU and its ENP partner states). In both cases the final agreement is based on provisions from the EU acquis communautaire and is jointly discussed and adopted. For this reason, the Common Spaces receive funding from the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), which also funds the ENP.

At the St. Petersburg Summit in May 2003, the EU and Russia agreed to reinforce their co-operation by creating, in the long term, four common spaces in the framework of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement of 1997: a common economic space; a common space of freedom, security and justice; a space of co-operation in the field of external security; and a space of research, education, and cultural exchange.

The Moscow Summit in May 2005 adopted a single package of Road Maps for the creation of the four Common Spaces. These expand on the ongoing cooperation as described above, set out further specific objectives, and determine the actions necessary to make the common spaces a reality. They thereby determine the agenda for co-operation between the EU and Russia for the medium-term.

The London Summit in October 2005 focused on the practical implementation of the Road Maps for the four Common Spaces.

Common Economic Space[edit]

The objective of the common economic space is to create an open and integrated market between the EU and Russia. This space is intended to remove barriers to trade and investment and promote reforms and competitiveness, based on the principles of non-discrimination, transparency, and good governance.

Among the wide range of actions foreseen, a number of new dialogues are to be launched. Cooperation will be stepped up on regulatory policy, investment issues, competition, financial services, telecommunications, transport, energy, space activities and space launching, etc. Environment issues including nuclear safety and the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol also figure prominently.

Common Space of Freedom, Security and Justice[edit]

Work on this space has already made a large step forward with the conclusion of negotiations on the Visa Facilitation and the Readmission Agreements. Both the EU and Russia are in the process of ratifying these agreements. The visa dialogue will continue with a view to examine the conditions for a mutual visa-free travel regime as a long-term perspective. In a 15 December 2011 statement given after an EU-Russia summit, the President of the European Commission confirmed the launch of the “Common Steps towards visa-free travel” with Russia.[35] Russia hopes to sign a deal on visa free travel as early as January 2014.[36]

Cooperation on combating terrorism and other forms of international illegal activities such as money laundering, the fight against drugs and trafficking in human beings will continue as well as on document security through the introduction of biometric features in a range of identity documents. The EU support to border management and reform of the Russian judiciary system are among the highlights of this space.

With a view to contributing to the concrete implementation of the road map, the Justice and Home Affairs PPC met on 13 October 2005 and agreed to organise clusters of conferences and seminars, bringing together experts and practitioners on counter-terrorism, cyber-crime, document security and judicial cooperation. There was also agreement about developing greater cooperation between the European Border Agency (FRONTEX) and the Federal Border Security Service of Russia.

Common Space on External Security[edit]

The road map underlines the shared responsibility of the parties for an international order based on effective multilateralism, their support for the central role of the UN, and for the effectiveness in particular of the OSCE and the Council of Europe. The parties will strengthen their cooperation on security and crisis management in order to address global and regional challenges and key threats, notably terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). They will give particular attention to securing stability in the regions adjacent to Russian and EU borders (the "frozen conflicts" in Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh).

EU activities in this area are done in the framework of its Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Common Space on Research, Education, Culture[edit]

This space builds on the long-standing relations with Russia through its participation in EU Research and Development activities and the 6th FPRD in particular, and under the TEMPUS programme. It aims at capitalising on the strength of the EU and Russian research communities and cultural and intellectual heritage by reinforcing links between research and innovation and closer cooperation on education such as through convergence of university curricula and qualifications. It also lays a firm basis for cooperation in the cultural field. A European Studies Institute co-financed by both sides will be set up in Moscow for the start of the academic year 2006/7.

Russia and the EU continue to work together under Horizon 2020, which runs from 2014 to 2020.[37]

EU membership discussion[edit]

Among the most vocal supporters of Russian membership of the EU has been former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. In an article published to Italian media on 26 May 2002, he said that the next step in Russia's growing integration with the West should be EU membership.[38] On 17 November 2005, he commented in regards to the prospect of such a membership that he is "convinced that even if it is a dream ... it is not too distant a dream and I think it will happen one day."[39] Berlusconi has made similar comments on other occasions as well.[40] More recently, in October 2008, he said "I consider Russia to be a Western country and my plan is for the Russian Federation to be able to become a member of the European Union in the coming years" and stated that he had this vision for years.[41]

Russian permanent representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov commented on this by saying that Russia has no plans of joining the EU.[42] Vladimir Putin has said that Russia joining the EU would not be in the interests of either Russia or the EU, although he advocated close integration in various dimensions including establishment of four common spaces between Russia and the EU, including united economic, educational and scientific spaces as it was declared in the agreement in 2003.[43][44][45][46]

At present, the prospect of Russia joining the EU any time in the near future is slim. Analysts commented in 2001 that Russia is "decades away" from qualifying for EU membership.[47] Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has also said that though Russia must "find its place both in NATO, and, in the longer term, in the European Union, and if conditions are created for this to happen" that such a thing is not economically feasible in the near future.[48]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Russia and Ukraine sign gas deal, BBC News (19 January 2009)
  2. ^ EU moves to secure Ukrainian gas, BBC News (23 March 2009)
  3. ^ a b Russia suspicious of EU-Ukraine gas "master plan", Reuters (March 23, 2009)
  4. ^ Putin threatens to review relations with EU, Russia Today (23 March 2009)
  5. ^ Russia raps EU over Ukraine gas talks , Reuters (March 26, 2009)
  6. ^ Analysis: Deauville summit BBC, 19 October 2010
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Reports multiply of Kremlin links to anti-EU parties". EU Observer. 28 November 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-04. 
  11. ^ Coynash, Halya (17 April 2014). "East Ukraine crisis and the 'fascist' matrix". Al Jazeera. 
  12. ^ Harding, Luke (8 December 2014). "We should beware Russia’s links with Europe’s right". The Guardian. 
  13. ^ Jauvert, Vincent (27 November 2014). "Poutine et le FN : révélations sur les réseaux russes des Le Pen". Le Nouvel Observateur. 
  14. ^ Dodman, Benjamin (23 November 2014). "France’s cash-strapped far right turns to Russian lender". France24. Archived from the original on 23 November 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Turchi, Marine (27 November 2014). "Far-right Front National's Russian loan: '31 mln euros more to follow'". Mediapart. 
  16. ^ a b Lichfield, John (27 November 2014). "€40m of Russian cash will allow Marine Le Pen’s Front National to take advantage of rivals’ woes in upcoming regional and presidential elections". The Independent. 
  17. ^ Pabst, Sabrina (29 November 2014). "Is the Kremlin financing Europe's right-wing populists?". Deutsche Welle. 
  18. ^ Beardsley, Eleanor; Flintoff, Corey (26 December 2014). "Europe's Far Right And Putin Get Cozy, With Benefits For Both". NPR. 
  19. ^ "Mediapart: National Front's Kremlin loan is worth €40mn". EU Observer. 2014-11-27. Retrieved 2014-12-04. 
  20. ^ Jones, Sam; Hope, Kerin; Weaver, Courtney (28 January 2015). "Alarm bells ring over Syriza's Russian links". Financial Times. 
  21. ^ Coalson, Robert (28 January 2015). "New Greek Government Has Deep, Long-Standing Ties With Russian 'Fascist' Dugin". RFERL. 
  22. ^ Rettman, Andrew (27 January 2015). "Greece says No to EU statement on Russia". EU Observer. 
  23. ^ Tétrault-Farber, Gabrielle (26 January 2015). "Greek Election Wins Putin a Friend in Europe". The Moscow Times. 
  24. ^ Shaun Walker (3 November 2014). "Ukraine: Donetsk votes for new reality in country that does not exist". the Guardian. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  25. ^ "A prelude to a farce: Prearranged ballots for Kremlin-backed breakaway regions". Kyiv Post. 1 November 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  26. ^ Andrew Higgins (30 November 2014). "Russian Money Suspected Behind Fracking Protests". New York Times. Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  27. ^ Max Seddon (2015-03-22). "Racists, Neo-Nazis, Far Right Flock to Russia for Joint Conference". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 2015-03-23. 
  28. ^ Paul Goble (2015-03-22). "Russia Hosting Europe’s Neo-Nazis, Nationalists and Anti-Semites, Putin Supporters All". The Interpreter Magazine. Retrieved 2015-03-23. 
  29. ^ a b EU-Russia bilateral trade relations, European Commission
  30. ^ Pop, Valentina (29 July 2011) EU to ease travel for residents of Russian enclave, EU Observer
  31. ^ "Energy Dialogue EU–Russia. The Tenth Progress Report." (PDF). European Commission. November 2009. pp. 4–6. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  32. ^ Почему Россия отказывается от польского мяса? (Russian)
  33. ^ EU and Russia tackle thorny issues at Samara summit 19/05/07
  34. ^ Russian food embargo leaves Europe with glut of fruit, pork and mackerel
  35. ^ Statement by President Barroso at the press conference following the EU-Russia Summit Press conference Brussels, 15 December 2011, (December 15, 2011)
  36. ^ "Russia Pushing for EU Visa-Free Travel Deal in January". 2013-12-07. Retrieved 2014-01-05. 
  37. ^ Sokolov, Alexander; Haegeman, Karel; Spiesberger, Manfred; Boden, Mark (22 December 2014). "Facilitating EU-Russian Scientific and Societal Engagement". Science & Diplomacy 3 (4). 
  38. ^ EU membership next step for Russia after NATO, Daily Times, 28 May 2002
  39. ^ Italian PM Berlusconi confident Russia will join EU, EUbusiness, 17 November 2005
  40. ^ Do Not Adjust Your Sets, TIME Europe Magazine, 7 July 2003
  41. ^ "Berlusconi says he wants Russia to join the EU". 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2013-02-01. 
  42. ^ "Russia not planning to join EU". 2008-10-17. Retrieved 2013-02-01. 
  43. ^ "Four spaces" of Russia and European Union, "Special opinion" program on Russian Radio[dead link]
  44. ^ "Four spaces, Rossiyskaya newspaper". Retrieved 2013-02-01. 
  45. ^ "Interview of official Ambassador of Russian Foreign Ministry on relations with the EU". 2004-11-25. Retrieved 2013-02-01. 
  46. ^ TKS.RU - всё о таможне (2004-04-23). "Four spaces, TKS". Retrieved 2013-02-01. 
  47. ^ Michael A. McFaul, West or East for Russia?, The Washington Post, 9 June 2001
  48. ^ Schroeder says Russia must find place in NATO, EU[dead link]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]