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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following the EU-Russia Summit
Joint press conference with Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council and Vladimir Putin, President of Russia /St. Petersburg
03 June 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank President Putin for his warm welcome here in the St. Petersburg region.
I have always valued a frank and open dialogue with President Putin. Indeed, we had this kind of dialogue during this Summit
I believe it is particularly appropriate that we hold this EU-Russia Summit so early in the beginning of this mandate of the President of Russia and also in the beginning of a new government.
Russia and Europe are experiencing important political, economic and social transformations. A new cycle is opening and this offers us the opportunity to look ahead and think strategically on our cooperation, what we want to achieve and where we want to be in five years' time and further ahead.
In recent years we have made significant progress on a number of issues, namely on the agreement for Russia's WTO accession – an objective that as you know the European Union and the European Commission have always supported. There was also some progress on visa and mobility, and on our Partnership for Modernisation. Therefore the purpose of this Summit was to consolidate the progress achieved and to launch the basis for a closer cooperation.
Last evening we had a comprehensive exchange of views on the global economic situation and the latest developments in Russia and in Europe. Let me on this regard just mention our full confidence in the future of the Euro area and of the European Union. In fact the debate now in the European Union is not how we are going to undo the integration. The debate is about how we are going to further deepen the integration to complement our monetary union with a full economic union, including in some areas like the banking sector supervision and also in some fiscal aspects.
So, no one should be in any doubt – there is absolute commitment in the European Union and in the Euro area to the euro and to the solidity and further integration of all our efforts. And I think this is important for Russia, because Russia is our largest neighbour and a very close strategic partner. We should build upon our strong ties and advance the negotiations of the New comprehensive EU-Russia Agreement which should cover all the relevant areas of our partnership, including trade, investment and energy provisions and lay the basis of a closer relation. I am convinced that with the firm commitment of both sides we will achieve a balanced and ambitious agreement that will be both beneficial for Russia and for the European Union.
The EU is already Russia's biggest commercial partner, accounting for around 50% of all Russian trade. It is also the biggest source of Foreign Direct Investment. The EU is the biggest client of the most important export from Russia, I mean energy. And Russia's WTO accession opens additional opportunities for trade and for the development of our bilateral economic relations. We believe this can be very important for the future.
Our Partnership for Modernisation is now in a phase of full implementation and I am happy to say that President Putin sees it as a priority. Russia is engaged in a very important process and we are very proud to be partners of Russia in that regard.
Building a partnership between our societies means also having closer relations between our peoples. This is why visa issues and mobility issues are so important. We are now engaged in the implementation of the “Common Steps towards visa-free travel” that we launched in the last summit. We welcome the substantial progress made in negotiations on an upgraded EU-Russia Visa Waiver Agreement, which should be finalized soon. Positive developments in this field have clear potential benefits to our citizens and for people-to-people contacts.
On energy, we welcome the progress in the Energy Dialogue and the close EU-Russia energy partnership. I stressed that a reliable, transparent and rules-based energy framework remains a key priority for the EU.
This summit confirmed the important common interests that we share and our willingness to build stronger relations and work even closer together. As the most famous Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin, who studied, lived and died in Saint Petersburg, once wrote: “we can try and fail, but we should not fail to try”. The European Union is looking forward to try…and not to fail - is looking forward to try and to succeed. And I am sure that we will succeed in the Partnership with Russia.
I thank you for your attention.