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EU and Russia: the summit of results

<p>(From left) President of the European Council Herman Van
Rompuy,<br />
 President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev and<br />
 President of the European Commission José Barroso.<strong><br />
</strong> © European Union, 2011</p>

(From left) President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy,
President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev and
President of the European Commission José Barroso.
© European Union, 2011

"It is a summit of results", said President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy after the 28th EU-Russia Summit of 15 December, held in Brussels. The highlights of the very full agenda were Russia's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the agreement on steps to be taken towards visa-free travel.


Towards visa-free travel


The Summit launched the "Common steps towards visa-free travel". The "steps" are concrete actions that both sides have agreed to take, to be able to start negotiations on the visa-waiver agreement for short-term stays.


These actions relate to document security (e.g. the introduction of biometric passports), the fight against illegal immigration, border management, public order, security and judicial cooperation, including the fight against transnational organised crime, terrorism and corruption.


There is no fixed timeframe for completing these steps. Senior officials on both sides plan to meet in January 2012 to discuss the technical aspects of their implementation.


In addition, the leaders welcomed the extension of the EU Local Border Traffic Regulation to the entire area of Kaliningrad region. This means that citizens from the whole of Kaliningrad and citizens from a specific border area on the Polish side will have special permits equivalent to payable short-term multiple entry visas, which will make it much easier for them to travel to one another's countries.


Russia's WTO accession


"Russian WTO-accession is the major achievement. It is a leverage for modernisation. It opens a myriad of new opportunities for trade, investment and global growth", said President Van Rompuy, who represented the EU at the summit together with Commission President José Manuel Barroso.


Russia is a strategic partner of the EU and is its third largest trading partner in goods (after the US and China). The EU is by far the largest market for Russian goods.


Russia will become a full WTO member after all the accession procedures have been completed, which will probably be in the summer of 2012. Russia's WTO membership is expected to boost the ongoing negotiations for a new EU-Russia Agreement, which is to replace the current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, in force since 1997.


One of the most important achievements relating to Russia's WTO negotiations is a political agreement on the phasing out of   Siberian overflight royalties that were   hitherto imposed on EU airlines. It was agreed that from 2014 all charges will be cost-related and be paid to the responsible authorities.


Partnership for modernisation


The EU-Russia Partnership for Modernisation is now in full implementation. Its goal is to foster the modernising of economies and societies.


In the EU's view, modernisation should not be focused on technology alone; the rule of law, protection of citizens' rights, and a level playing field for companies are key if the goals of the partnership are to be achieved.


The modernisation actions are outlined in the four specific "Common Spaces" (the economy; freedom, security and justice; external security; research, education and culture).


The EU and Russia exchanged views on the main areas of cooperation under this partnership and have tasked the coordinators for both sides to develop a plan.


The EU also expressed concerns about problems in the Russian elections and would like Russia to live up to its international commitments to ensure free and fair elections and to fully observe democratic standards in the forthcoming presidential elections on 4 March 2012.



More information:

Press statement (pdf)

Webcast of press conference

Factsheet (pdf)

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