© European Union
During a two-day summit on 3 and 4 June in St Petersburg, the EU and Russia discussed perspectives for their relationship, economic and financial issues, and international developments. "We (…) have confirmed our joint commitment to further develop the EU-Russia strategic partnership", said President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, who with Commission President José Manuel Barroso represented the EU at the summit that was hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In the discussions on economic and financial situation President Van Rompuy said the EU was addressing systemic challenges of the economic and monetary union and is working on deepening integration. "Let me be clear, there is no way back for the euro. There is only the way ahead towards more integration", Mr Van Rompuy concluded.
Both sides emphasized that the New Agreement between EU and Russia, on which both parties are currently working, is the best way to develop the bilateral relations further. The New Agreement is to replace the current EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (in force since 2007) and should reflect the many political, economic and social changes that both the EU and Russia have undergone.
Russia is the EU's third largest trade partner, with 108 billion EUR in exports to Russia (7% of all EU exports) and 199 billion EUR in imports (11,8% of all EU imports) in the year 2011.
The President of the European Council welcomed the active implementation of the so-called common steps towards visa-free travel for short-term stays. These steps are actions concerning document security and the fight against illegal immigration and organised crime for both sides to implement.
In the discussions on Syria, President Van Rompuy stressed that "the situation was appalling" and that the Syrian regime should "immediately cease all forms of violence and provide its full support to the UN Supervision Mission."
"The EU and Russia might have some diverging assessments, but we fully agree that the Annan Plan as a whole provides the best opportunity to break the cycle of violence in Syria, avoiding a civil war, and in finding a peaceful and lasting solution."
As for Iran, Mr Van Rompuy said both the EU and Russia "agree on the urgent need to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons". The next round of talks will be held in Moscow, where the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton will lead the discussion with Iran on behalf of six world powers.
President's remarks following the Summit (pdf)