Leaders to endorse low-profile agreements
By Joanna Sopinska | Friday 28 May 2010
The Partnership for Modernisation and the visa-free regime dialogue are expected to top the agenda of the forthcoming EU-Russia summit in Rostov-on-Don in Southern Russia, on 31 May and 1 June. The leaders will also focus on “common challenges,” such as the global economic crisis, climate change and energy relations as well as international and regional issues, according to an EU source.
It is going to be the first EU-Russia summit since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. The event will be co-chaired by the President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy. Under the new rules, representatives of the EU Presidency will not be present at the meeting. The EU will also be represented by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, High Representative Catherine Ashton and Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht. Russia’s delegation will be led by President Dmitry Medvedev, accompanied by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Due to internal disagreements between the EU member states (see
Europolitics3985), no breakthrough deals are expected to be signed on any of the two highlights. In the case of the Partnership for Modernisation - an initiative sponsored by Germany - the leaders will adopt a joint statement, setting out “the main priority areas for future work,” according to an EU document seen by
Europolitics. Due to the reluctance of certain member states towards a far-reaching engagement with Russia on cooperation focused exclusively on technology transfer without any room for dialogue on closely related issues, such as rule of law and fundamental rights, the EU is not going to commit itself to any concrete projects.
Despite Moscow’s strong push for a concrete timeline for visa liberalisation, the EU will not commit itself at the summit to any mechanism directly leading to it. Instead of adopting a road map toward a visa-free regime, the leaders are expected to endorse an “action plan” and “reiterate their commitment to the long-term objective of visa-free travel” between the EU and Russia, based on a “step-by-step approach”.
The agenda will also include discussions on the impact of policy responses to the global crisis and coordinated exit strategies. In this respect, the EU is expected to recall the importance of avoiding protectionist measures. The leaders will also discuss ways to move forward the international climate change negotiations and to improve cooperation on energy and energy-security issues. On the sidelines of the summit, the EU and Russia will sign an agreement on the protection of classified information – a prerequisite of making Russia’s relations with Eurojust and Europol operational.
On international affairs, the leaders will assess the Iranian nuclear programme, the Middle East peace process, Afghanistan and the conflicts in Georgia and Moldova.