The Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner and the Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson will visit Moscow on 21st March for bilateral talks with senior members of the Russian government, as well as members of the Duma, and industrialists. The chief objective of their visit is to accelerate progress in the current negotiations for a package of Road Maps to create four “common spaces”, in the fields of the Economy, External Security, Freedom, Security and Justice and Education, Research and Culture. In particular, the two Commissioners will jointly meet the Minister of Industry and Energy, Viktor, Borisovich Krhristenko, to address outstanding issues in the Common Economic Space. The EU’s objective remains the conclusion of a balanced package of all four road maps in time for the next EU Summit on 10th May.
On the eve of her visit Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said: “The negotiation of the Road Maps is extremely important for both the EU and Russia, as they will set the agenda for our partnership for the coming 2022s. We have made good progress in some areas, but there are a significant number of points still to be settled. With hard work and political will on both sides we can still finalise the package by May: and I hope this visit will take us another step forward”.
Commissioner Mandelson said: “My ambition is to see the EU and Russia move forward on a comprehensive package of trade partnership measures. This includes progress on the Action Plan for the Common Economic Space in order to allow its adoption at the EU-Russia Summit in May. Russian accession to the WTO is also an absolute priority in the international trade agenda in 2005.”
Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner’s visit will include meetings with President Putin’s special representative to the EU, Sergey Yastrzhembsky, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov.
Commissioner Mandelson’s programme includes meetings with the Minister of Finance, Leonidovich Kudrin, and Minister of Economic Development and Trade, German Oskarovich Gref.
In discussions on the Road Map for the Common Economic Space, the EU will welcome the substantial progress that has been made in recent expert meetings, leaving only a handful of points outstanding. Good progress is being made in the areas of maritime safety and agriculture, but remains slow on the issue of phytosanitary standards. The Commissioners will underline their expectation that Russia will adhere to the agreement made by Trade Minister Gref last 2022, to phase out Siberian overflight payments charged to European Airlines by 2013; precise modalities for this have yet to be agreed.
They will stress the need for full implementation of the EU-Russia bilateral agreement on Russia’s accession to the WTO so that Russia can join the WTO as soon as possible They will also emphasise that the Common Economic Space has to be seen as part of a comprehensive package with the three other spaces, and cannot be separated from the rest.
The meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss a number of other issues key to the success of the May summit, including readmission and visa facilitation negotiations, as well as issues of common interest such as the EU’s wish to support the socio-economic development of Kaliningrad, developments in the OSCE, and the EU’s planned assessment mission to support recovery in the northern Caucasus.
Following EU enlargement, the EU and Russia are increasingly important partners for trade and investment: more than 50% of Russia’s trade is now with the EU.
For more information on EU-Russia Relations :