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Brussels, 22 February 2011

European Commission meets Russian Government for executive-to-executive talks

President José Manuel Barroso and the European Commission will host the Russian Government led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on 24 February 2011. These executive-to-executive talks will cover the full range of EU-Russia relations, from support to Russia's modernization process to trade and energy matters, from deeper technological cooperation to international affairs.

Ahead of the meeting, Commission President Barroso said: "I look forward to fruitful discussions with Prime Minister Putin and his Government. The depth of our talks will reflect yet again how deeply interdependent Russia and the European Union are, and demonstrate our shared interest in tackling common concerns through an open dialogue. In particular, I expect further impulses to our Partnership for Modernisation. We should also use the positive momentum to walk the home stretch of Russia's WTO accession and make substantial headway on the New Agreement between the EU and Russia, including on trade, investment and energy matters."

Mutual visits between the Russian Government and the Commission have been held since 1997, most recently in Moscow in February 2009. This executive-to-executive meeting will be the largest ever, involving the College of Commissioners and a dozen Ministers of the Russian Federation. Several documents on energy will also be signed, including an updated Early Warning Mechanism. President Barroso and Prime Minister Putin will hold a press point at approx. 13.00.

Background – key topics:

The executive-to-executive-talks will build on the positive developments in EU–Russia relations and should bring progress on the following key points: The Partnership for Modernisation, proposed by President Barroso in November 2009, was launched at the 2010 Rostov Summit, with a rolling work-plan agreed last December. This Partnership provides operational support to Russia's modernization process including the strengthening of the rule of law. The Commission-Russia meeting will give further guidance to the Partnership and ensure that it is speedily implemented in all its facets.

Last autumn’s conclusion of the bilateral negotiations on Russia’s WTO accession provided significant momentum for the multilateral process. This can be concluded in 2011. The executive-to-executive talks should maintain this dynamic and discuss ways to overcome the final issues. In the same vein, the meeting is also expected to give renewed impetus to the ongoing negotiations on a New EU-Russia Agreement.

The Commission and the Russian Government will also take stock of the ongoing joint work on Common Steps towards a possible visa-free travel regime. Finally, the talks will cover various international issues of common concern and discuss closer cooperation in our Common Neighbourhood.

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