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Brussels, 20 May 2009

EU-Russia Summit on 21-22 May in Khabarovsk

The next EU-Russia Summit takes place in Khabarovsk, in the Russian Far East, on 21 and 22 May. The Summit will be hosted by President Dmitry Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation. The Commission will be represented by President José Manuel Barroso. He will be accompanied by Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner Commissioner for Trade, Baroness Catherine Ashton and Commissioner for Energy Andris Piebalgs. The Summit is an opportunity or the EU and Russia to discuss how best to coordinate responses to the financial and economic crisis. Climate change and energy security are also high on the agenda.. International issues which will be tackled at the Summit range from efforts to promote greater stability in the common neighbourhood and in Europe more generally, through to the situation in the Middle East, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Iran and Sri Lanka among others.

On the eve of the Summit, President José Manuel Barroso said: “Russia and the EU are interdependent. The global financial and economic crisis stresses the need to develop the potential of our relationship, remove obstacles and coordinate our efforts. Regular and frank political dialogue is the right way to manage our relationship and it must prevail in all times, no matter how difficult the issues at stake are.”

Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner added:Greater political and economic stability in our shared neighbourhood is in the interest of all. The EU-Russia partnership has shown its capacity to maintain dialogue even in the most difficult times, and we need to continue to strengthen a partnership characterized by inter-dependence, reliability, mutual trust, predictability, and transparency. The progress made in the four common spaces and the ongoing negotiations for a new comprehensive agreement are clear signs for the vitality of our relationship and the mutual interest to develop it further. ”

Commissioner Ashton underlined: "In this economic downturn and with protectionist sentiment on the rise, a strong, rules-based international trade system is of greater importance than ever.  WTO membership is in Russia's interest, not least to attract more foreign investment and diversify its economy. Russia's membership will also allow us to enhance our bilateral trade relationship further."

Commissioner Piebalgs stated: ''Building on the results of the regular EC - Russia energy dialogue and the last EU - Russia Permanent Partnership Council on Energy of 30th of April 2009, this summit provides an opportunity to make further progress on enhancing the Early Warning Mechanism. Moreover, exchange of views on recent energy security proposals made by the Russian side will greatly feed into broader debate on energy security challenges at international level as well as prepare discussions on the future bilateral energy framework to be agreed under the EU - Russia New Agreement.''

The plenary session is likely to focus on responses to the global financial and economic crisis and to a review of co-operation under the common spaces. The interdependence between the EU and Russian economies makes a powerful argument to step up efforts to co-ordinate responses to the crisis, but also to look for ways to further expand the trade and economic relationship. The EU continues to support Russia ’s accession to the WTO, but has voiced its concerns about some of the measures that the Russian Government has introduced in response to the crisis. Energy continues to dominate economic and trading relations between the EU and Russia, and the Summit is an occasion to look at practical ways of dealing with crises in supply such as that experienced in January, by means of an expanded Early Warning Mechanism. Leaders are also expected to welcome progress in the implementation of the EU-Russia common spaces - a dialogue on public health has been launched, negotiations are beginning on an agreement on drug precursors, and the Science and Technology Agreement is being renewed.

For the longer-term the EU and Russia are negotiating a New Agreement to replace the existing Partnership and Cooperation Agreement which should set out reinforced legally-binding provisions for the whole range of EU/Russia relations; in the field of energy it should be based on a relationship of interdependence and mutual benefits, enshrining the principles of the Energy Charter Treaty. The Summit is an opportunity to take stock of the progress made on the New Agreement negotiations.

EU and Russia Justice and Home Affairs Ministers are set to meet in Kaliningrad on 13-14 May, and leaders will hear back from the ministerial on issues ranging from progress in the visa dialogue, co-operation in the field of civil and criminal law, and in the fight against drug trafficking.

Greater stability in the common neighbourhood is a shared ambition, and leaders will hear the results of the latest round of talks in Geneva on Georgia, which are scheduled to take place on May 18-19.

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