Future Russia-EU deal falters

31_1.jpgThe Partnership Cooperation Agreement between Russia and the European Union has expired. It was signed ten years ago and will automatically be extended, but Russia says there is a need for a new long-term deal. EU-Russia ties are facing critical challenges following a decade of global change.

“Today Russia is, of course, different from ten years ago and the EU today is absolutely not the same entity. Communication is bad – that’s why we need negotiations and that’s why we also need a new agreement,” notes Fyodor Lukyanov , Editor-in-Chief of the magazine ‘Russia in Global Affairs’.

Since 1997 the EU has expanded and Russia’s on the rise. Under these circumstances business seems to be catching up with the times. Currently Moscow and Brussels mediate through Partnership Cooperation Agreements: meetings, frameworks and objectives for contact. And business is booming through them.

According to President Putin European investment in Russia accounts for $US 43 BLN, while Russian investment in the EU is just one tenth of this at $US 4.3 BLN. However, profits could be bigger, relations more relaxed and processes more streamlined. So what’s the problem?

The reality is Russia’s busy with elections and Europe is struggling to work out its future status after the failure of the EU constitution.

Marc Franco, head of EC delegation to Russia, says it’s not an easy task to move forward. However, he believes, there light at the end of the tunnel, and ‘it’s not the train coming from the other side’.

Elsewhere, Poland blocked talks with Russia when Moscow imposed a meat ban after reports of unsanitary conditions. But with a change of government in Warsaw, tensions are easing.

So there is a certain hope a fresh partnership will be developing.

“It’s already clear that from the beginning of December both sides have come to the conclusion that the current agreement will be valid for another year automatically,” Presidential Special Envoy to EU, Sergey Yastrzhembsky, says.

It isn’t the ten-year strategy both sides hoped for, but when new talks on the status of relations begin next year both Russia and Europe may be a little more prepared to work out future ties.

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