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Brussels, 21 December 2012
EU-Russia Summit – President Barroso's main messages
It is a great pleasure to welcome President Putin to Brussels. We just finished a very useful summit where we took stock of our bilateral relations and discussed ways to further our ties. Our conversations were very open, very frank and very constructive. The European Union and Russia are indeed strategic partners of a special kind. We are neighbours, we are also linked by history, by culture, and we are, to a large extent, economically interdependent.
As the world is increasingly interconnected we will respond better to the aspirations of our citizens by joining our efforts. Russia and the European Union are making good progress in a number of areas of common interest and the potential to strengthen our ties remains huge.
We had a productive discussion on the state of the economy in Russia and in Europe, and also on the general elements of the strategic partnership.
The new EU-Russia Agreement will be very important to lay the foundations for an even closer and stronger relationship. I am convinced that we can achieve a balanced and ambitious agreement that will be beneficial for both Russia and for the European Union.
Our Partnership for Modernisation is bearing fruit and I welcome the results achieved so far. The Partnership entails economic and technological development, but it goes beyond that. It is also about cooperation with civil society and the overall legal and political framework for modernisation.
We also reviewed the good progress made on the implementation of the "Common Steps towards visa-free travel". Our goal is to open negotiations on a visa-waiver agreement in the future. We believe substance over speed should guide our common endeavours in an area which will bring concrete benefits to our citizens.
Meanwhile, before we reach our strategic objective - a visa-free regime between Russia and the European Union - we believe it is important to conclude the Visa Facilitation Agreement.
Our trade and economic ties are also very strong. The European Union is Russia’s number one trading partner with our bilateral trade amounting to €308 billion in 2011. The European Union is also the source of 75% of all foreign direct investment in Russia. And Europe is also a key and very attractive market for Russian exports, notably energy products and commodities. We are convinced that by upholding WTO rules and commitments and by embracing open trade, Russia will increase trade volumes and become even more competitive and prosperous. This is what we are aiming at. We believe this relationship can benefit both sides.
Russia is also a very important provider of energy resources to Europe. We are keen on our Energy Dialogue and we want to continue strengthening our cooperation in this field, notably through the New Agreement. Some differences remain regarding some aspects of energy relations between Europe and Russia, but we believe it is possible to find concrete pragmatic solutions.
Beyond our traditional areas of cooperation, our ties are also growing in breadth and depth. Let me give you a very concrete example which I am very attached to: we agreed to make 2014 the "EU-Russia Year of Science, Technology and Innovation." This year-long series of events, to be jointly organised across the EU and Russia, will celebrate the vibrant and multifaceted science and technology cooperation between the EU, our Member States and the Russian Federation. Involving scientists, research organisations, innovators and the wider public, the EU-Russia Year of Science will directly build on Russia's strong involvement in the current EU Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.
We are also cooperating with our Russian partners on the preparation of the next G20 Summit in Saint Petersburg. We agree with the important priorities that the Russian Presidency has set for this Summit. We will do our best to contribute to a success in Saint Petersburg.
Our relation has a huge potential for cooperation with gains for both sides. As we have proposed to President Putin we should transform what is today an interdependence by necessity into an interdependence by choice. The European Union remains fully interested to engage with Russia in this direction on the basis of common values, mutual interest, mutual benefit and mutual respect.