Russia and EU: Proficiency Essential
No. 2 2004 April/June

In June 2004, the Russian Federation and the European Union (EU)
will acknowledge the ten-year anniversary since the signing of a
fundamental document known as the Partnership and Cooperation
Agreement (PCA). This is a good opportunity for critically
assessing this document, as well as charting a course for the
development of a regulatory framework of cooperation between Russia
and the EU.

It has become obvious that the PCA must be further expanded and
specified with regard to past experience. The fundamental changes
underway both in Russia and the EU demand that their joint
activities be amended. A new level of cooperation could be achieved
through formulating a Strategic Partnership and Cooperation
Declaration. However, we do not need another general political
document that we have had in abundance in the last decade. The
declaration designed to strengthen the international peace,
security, law and order should provide a long-term and, at the same
time, detailed vision of our joint objectives. 

In drawing up new plans and modes of integration, Russia and the
EU rely on the world’s experiences available to them. As an
illustration, both sides carefully analyzed the principles
underlying the EU’s trade and economic relations with the member
states of the European Free Trade Association (Iceland,
Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), as well as the cooperative
methods within the frameworks of the Latin American associations,
such as MERCOSUR (the Southern Common Market) and the Andes
Community while developing a concept for the Common European
Economic Space. This approach testifies to the openness of the
Russia-EU partnership, and its close ties with other agents of
world politics and economy.

The dialog between Russia and the EU has not always been smooth,
and recently the partners have been facing some troublesome issues.
Among the factors complicating Russian-EU relations is the
extremely tough stance taken by the EU delegation concerning
Russia’s accession to the WTO, the EU’s anti-dumping measures which
were enforced against Russian exporters (as many as 11 antidumping
regulations have been imposed on Russian goods by the EU), and some
differences in particular political assessments, specifically
concerning the situation in the Chechen Republic. Many regulatory
documents which directly involve Russia’s interests are prepared
without its participation, as was the case when a list was drawn
specifying the conditions of Russia’s participation in the Balkan
operation, under the auspices of the EU. On another occasion,
Moscow suggested that a negotiating group be established to settle
the transit issue between Kaliningrad and the Russian mainland –
Brussels responded with an adamant refusal. Later, however,
Brussels conceded to the proposal and both sides successfully
agreed to a solution that respected the sovereignty of the Russian
Federation, Lithuania and the Schengen rules. This example shows
that cooperation between Russia and the EU can be effective only
when it is governed by international law rather than the whims or
rules of one of the negotiating sides.

An analysis of the successes and failures of the joint
activities between Russia and the EU highlights some of the
specific measures that should be taken in the future in order to
strengthen this partnership. First and foremost, Russia and the EU
must improve its legal basis which now lacks several important
provisions, such as the methods and conditions of cooperation in
countering international terrorism.

Russia and the EU must better consider their mutual interests
and needs while monitoring their law enforcement capabilities; this
would significantly facilitate new lawmaking initiatives, as well
as future cooperation in the realm of international legal codes.
Such monitoring should embrace all of the spheres that are
presently under the supervision of nine subcommittees – trade and
industry; energy, environment, science and technology; human
resources; transport, telecommunications and space; mining
industry; intellectual property rights; customs and cross-border
cooperation; agriculture and consumer protection; financing.

This process should involve the Russian regions and individual
EU member states, as well as members of the European Parliament and
the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation (RF). It is time the
parties draft such important documents as the Agreement on
Promoting Economic, Technical and Cultural Cooperation between the
Russian Federation Regions and the EU, the Agreement on Russia-EU
Cross-Border Cooperation, and the Agreement on Cooperation between
the RF Federal Assembly and the European Parliament.

The two sides should give more attention to the important
process of regionalization that is currently underway across
Europe. To make the most of the opportunities provided by this
process, closer ties should be encouraged between the Russian
parliament and the EU Committee of the Regions. Furthermore, the
partners should fully use the potential of the Council of the Heads
of the Russian Federal Entities, as well as that of the seven
Russian federal districts governed by the President’s
plenipotentiary representatives. In the long term, Russia and the
EU should work to set up a Council of Russian and EU Regions,
prepare joint initiatives within the framework of the European
regional policy and submit them to the Council of Europe, the
Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the Assembly of
European Regions. The regional policy is the second largest budget
item in the EU long-term program (2007-13) that is currently being
discussed by the European Commission. So, Russia can receive
tangible benefits from its participation in regional cooperation,
as well as through joint regional projects.

Expanded cooperation between Russia and the EU requires that the
institutional framework of the partnership be reinforced and the
structures of political interaction optimized. In May 2003, this
process was launched at the Russia-EU summit held in St.
Petersburg. The participants decided to transform the Cooperation
Council into the Permanent Partnership Council. In the near future
both sides should agree upon its status and a schedule of dialog
between the foreign ministers of the Russian Federation and the EU
member states. Other structures should be disintegrated. For
example, cooperation in the field of law enforcement has grown so
significantly that it obviously requires the establishment of a
separate structure.

The coordination between various participants in the Russia-EU
dialog – such as the different governmental agencies, regions and
economic agents – would be facilitated if a commission for European
integration matters is established under the Russian president,
which would first function as a public organization and then as a
state agency.

Finally, we must not ignore the role that St. Petersburg has
traditionally played in European politics and culture. The
political dialog would undoubtedly benefit if the Neva-based city
hosted a center of parliamentarism to bring together law-makers
from Russia and the EU member states. This concept could be put
into practice on the model of the Parliamentary Assembly of the CIS
member nations already in operation.

Diplomacy is another field where it is necessary to take
important steps toward strengthening the partnership between Russia
and the European Union. It is true that Russia’s foreign offices in
Europe, such as its embassies, consulates, and permanent missions
to the international organizations, have not been used to their
fullest potential, while the RF permanent mission to the European
Communities in Brussels, which is a sort of a Russian outpost in
the heart of united Europe, needs to be substantially reinforced in
terms of its personnel and logistics.

Business circles can play a significant role in invigorating the
Russia-EU dialog. By way of illustration, the roundtable meetings
of industrialists of Russia and the EU have already started
discussing cooperation in the energy, transport, information
technologies and investment fields. In the future, it would be
expedient to conduct roundtable meetings in Russia’s regions in
order to discuss vital economic problems there.

Based on the standard regulatory framework and the practice of
lobbying interests in various EU structures, Russia should work out
a system of effective representation of its businesses in Brussels.
With this aim in view, the partners should organize, within the
framework of the TACIS program, a series of workshops in Brussels
and Moscow that would involve experts from the European Commission,
the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and some other
associations of industrialists.

The relations between Russia and the EU are at a stage which
requires highly proficient specialists with cutting-edge knowledge
in those fields which pertain to European integration. Thus, the
primary task facing Russia is the improvement of the interregional
departments of higher educational institutions that deal with
European law, economics of the European Union, etc. An invaluable
contribution can be made by Moscow State University; Moscow State
Institute of International Relations; St. Petersburg, Kazan and
Rostov universities; the Diplomatic Academy of the RF Ministry of
Foreign Affairs. It would be useful to set up, via the TACIS
program, an All-Russian Center that would specialize in EU
documentation. In order to achieve these goals, it would be
beneficial to draw the support of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (specifically, the Secretariat of the RF Governmental
Commission for Cooperation with the European Union), the Ministry
of Economic Development (the Department of Trade Policy and
Multilateral Negotiations), the EU Documentation Center of Moscow
State University, and the Institute of Europe of the Russian
Academy of Sciences.

Work on strengthening Russia-EU cooperation should be carried
out on a regular basis. This will help make the Russian-European
partnership – based on a profound analysis of emerging problems,
together with the shared principles of responsibility and the
observance of international legal norms – an efficient and
influential institution within the international system.