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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following the meeting between the European Commission and the Russian Government
22 March 2013
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to start by thanking Prime Minister Medvedev for his kind welcome to me and my delegation. We had a very good meeting today, but my visit started yesterday when we also had a very deep conversation and I also had the opportunity to meet President Putin where we had a very good discussion about many of the topics in our common agenda. I have visited Moscow accompanied by 15 members of the Commission. This was the largest meeting we have ever held so far with any partner of the European Union. And I am very satisfied with the positive spirit of our discussions which were a step forward in the consolidation of our strategic partnership.
Successful cooperation and dialogue do not happen by coincidence. They are the result of joint motivation, continuous consultations, respect for the commitments taken and open-minded solutions. A strategic partnership must be built on strategic trust.
Today we have discussed the full scope of our relations, from trade to transports, from energy to mobility, from science to good governance and rule of law.
Such a wide and comprehensive relationship needs a contractual relation of the same kind. This is what we are seeking to achieve with the New Agreement. A comprehensive and ambitious New Agreement would be beneficial for our political cooperation, for our sectorial dialogues and for our trade and investment relations. It would be highly symbolic if we could conclude the negotiations on it by next year when we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of our Partnership and Cooperation Agreement of 1994.
Trade is one of the pillars of our cooperation. The European Union is by far Russia's biggest overall trade partner and Russia is European Union's third largest trade partner. In 2012 alone, the total volume of trade between the European Union and Russia reached 336 billion euros and around 75% of Foreign Direct Investment in Russia is of European origin. In 2010 the European Union's stock of Foreign Direct Investment in Russia amounted to 120 billion euros, so it is really a very impressive relationship in terms of trade and investment and in spite of the difficult economic situation it has been growing and I want to signal this.
As you know the European Union has supported Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation. This has represented a major achievement in Russia's efforts to diversify its economy. It can also constitute a potential push in our commercial and investment contacts. But for that to happen it is essential that a full and effective implementation of all commitments taken is made.
Open trade, transparent rules and rejection of protectionism is clearly part of the answer to revive global growth. We support Russia's G20 chairmanship and the priority to concentrate G20's efforts on developing measures to stimulate economic growth and the creation of jobs.
In order to fully tap the growth potential of our economies we need to reform and modernise. I am therefore glad that the European Union is a key partner in Russia's modernization, a Partnership that President Medvedev at that time and myself launched together 4 years ago. This is now under full implementation and today we have reviewed it. New projects are under preparation, and up to 2 billion euros loan funding are now available from the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to back our joint initiatives.
In this respect I have also stated that a successful modernization needs to encompass and run in parallel to the strengthening of the rule of law and fundamental freedoms. Ultimately modernisation only succeeds if it is embraced and developed by the civil society itself. And civil society needs to have the right conditions to flourish and thrive.
We also discussed - a constant topic - our energy cooperation. Let's not forget that the European Union is the first costumer of the main Russian export that is energy. 80% of all Russian oil exports go to the European Union; 70% of all Russian gas exports; 50% of all Russian coal exports go to the European Union. We both share an interest in open, transparent and predictable markets. This is an area where there is sometimes tension due to the intensity of our relations but where there is also the will to cooperate and develop a win-win relation.
It's true, as Prime Minister Medvedev just said, that we have some differences of approach in some areas related to energy. But it is also true, that in spite of that, just now we have adopted today the European Union-Russia Roadmap for Energy Cooperation until 2050. I was saying to Prime Minister Medvedev that I don't know if we will be there in 2050 to check the implementation of that Roadmap. I hope we will be. But I fact it shows that it is possible to have nevertheless some positive agenda, including in this field. Because I think this Roadmap is an expression of our will to develop a shared vision, common policies, and a joint objective of achieving a Pan-European Energy Space, if not before, by 2050.
We have also demonstrated that our partnership is delivering in several key areas. We have just witnessed the signature of an Administrative Arrangement on cooperation on Civil Protection, and another agreement on Consumer Protection.
And I could continue. We are preparing the EU-Russia Year of Science and Innovation in 2014, and we are also re-launching a substantial cooperation on Security and Counter-Terrorism issues.
This proves that not only we had good exchanges but also that we have achieved concrete and substantive results. Our partnership is delivering.
But our cooperation is also important for our citizens and the well-being of the citizens. This is why our mobility agenda is so important. Today we have moved forward on our upgraded visa facilitation discussions and we are close to reach an agreement. It is important to ensure now the right conditions for its conclusion. We also had a very frank and open discussion about some concerns on this matter.
And we are also making progress in the Common Steps towards a visa-free regime. It is essential to move up a gear in the implementation of the agreed common steps on several issues.
Prime Minister, dear colleague,
The European Union and Russia are indeed strategic partners because we are really indispensable to each other’s security, economic development and prosperity.
Our meeting today shows we are ready to move from a sectorial “partnership of necessity” to a global “partnership of choice”. This way we can realise, I believe, the full potential of our relationship.
I am looking forward to continue working with you, with the Russian government and the Russian authorities to achieve it.
Thank you again for your kind hospitality and atmosphere of our exchanges of yesterday and today.