BRUSSELS and MOSCOW, June 18—Despite optimistic rhetoric of partnership and strategic cooperation, the recent EU–Russia summit ended without any significant agreements. Relations between Moscow and Brussels have entered a period of stagnation, marking time as policy makers on both sides grapple with their own domestic and international challenges and weigh the costs and benefits of further integration.
In a new series of commentaries, Carnegie experts from Moscow, Brussels, and Washington take stock of the relationship, assess the challenges and opportunities for both sides, and provide a clearer view of what is—what is not—possible for EU–Russian relations.
- Political ties. The need for a strong relationship between Moscow and Brussels is clear, as are the tasks at hand. So, too, are the roadblocks, writes Dmitri Trenin. Europe faces administrative and political barriers to a common policy on Russia, and Russia remains unwilling to undertake reforms that would make it fully compatible with the EU. Among their greatest challenges will be adding the “Union” to Russian–European relations—almost all progress has been made in cities other than Brussels.
- Energy. Driven by changing market conditions, increasing costs of production, and a real commitment to efficiency, Russia stands to gain much from increased collaboration with Europe. But for real progress to be made, both sides need to develop a clearer conception of their own energy security and the price they are willing to pay for it.
- Modernization. Russia’s drive to boost efficiency and diversification and move towards a knowledge-based economy, coupled with a recognition that foreign investment will be crucial to success, could open the door to a true “Partnership for Modernization” with Europe, writes Sergey Aleksashenko. But Moscow’s unwillingness to trust market forces and continued insistence on top-down economic policies make true partnership almost impossible.
- Integration. Russia wants Europe’s technological resources to maintain its current economic and political system going, but Europe wants institutional harmonization and integration built on Russia’s eventual democratization. If Europe wants to achieve that, writes Sam Greene, it will have to find ways—including easing visa requirements—to bypass the Kremlin and integrate directly with Russian citizens and businesses.
“The relative disappointment of the Rostov summit underscores what has long been clear: the kind of integration that is potentially of interest to Russian leaders is of little or no interest to Europe, and vice versa,” says Sam Greene. “Russia will, nonetheless, probably extract much of the technology it wants from European companies. The question remains, will Europe get what it wants, in terms of long-term institutional change?”
Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, has been with the Center since its inception. He retired from the Russian Army in 1993. From 1993-1997, Trenin held posts as a senior research fellow at the NATO Defense College in Rome and a senior research fellow at the Institute of Europe in Moscow.
Adnan Vatansever is a senior associate in the Energy and Climate Program at the Carnegie Endowment. He specializes in the energy sectors of the former Soviet republics and Eastern Europe, with a particular focus on energy efficiency and carbon reduction, energy security, and Russia’s economic diversification.
Sergei Aleksashenko, former deputy minister of finance of the Russian Federation and former deputy governor of the Russian central bank, is a scholar-in-residence in the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Economic Policy Program.
Sam Greene is deputy director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. His work focuses on state-society relations in Russia and the post-communist space and the linkages between Russia’s domestic politics and foreign policy.
Adding the Union to Russian-European Relations
EU-Russia Energy Relations: A Pause or Fast Forward?
A Dialogue of the Deaf: EU–Russia Economic Cooperation