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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following the EU-Russia Summit in Yekaterinburg
4 June 2013
Thank you Mr President,
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to be here with you today at the heart of the Urals. In the past the Urals were considered to be the natural frontier of Europe. And Yekaterinburg was precisely at the frontier between Europe and Asia. Some called this city a window to Asia.
However, in the 21st century the notion of frontiers, administrative or physical, has not exactly the same significance and the Urals should be seen more as a bridge than as a barrier. That is why, even if the European Commission as you know does not vote regarding the World Exhibition in 2020, I was really impressed by the candidature of Yekaterinburg and I wish you all the best for that candidature.
It was in this spirit of "bridging" that we had the Summit today and our open exchanges during yesterday's informal dinner. These discussions followed the very useful exchanges that we have held in Moscow last March, at the occasion of our executive-to-executive consultations, the meeting between the government of the Russian Federation and the European Commission.
Our cooperation spans a wide range of areas and today we signed an agreement on cooperation on drug precursors. This is important for the fight against drugs, both on the supply and the demand side.
More generally, I am glad that we do have an ambitious common vision for the future of our relations. We have discussed today concretely how to move forward towards an ambitious and comprehensive New EU-Russia Agreement.
One of the pillars of our relations is of course our strong trade flows. Last year we have reached a record level of 336 billion euros of exchanges. But there is potential for more and we should create the right conditions to expand these flows.
Russia's accession to the WTO was a major step forward in this regard. We also discussed today the effective implementation of WTO commitments. President Putin mentioned some issues already. We have raised again concerns with the cars recycling fee which we hope can be lifted by July. We received good news on this matter and also other matters on the very extensive trade relationship between Russia and the European Union.
We are also making good work in our Partnership for Modernisation which is under full implementation, with new projects being prepared, and considerable loan funding available, including now €800 million in loans for small and medium-sized enterprises. As you know the European Investment Bank apart from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is also present in this cooperation.
Our energy cooperation is also mutually beneficial, but we should deepen it further. Last March, the EU Commission and the government of the Russian Federation agreed on a joint Energy Roadmap 2050. This is a significant achievement.
The EU energy market – the world's largest - offers important business opportunities to Russian companies, and Russia will of course remain a very important energy supplier to Europe.
Visa free travel remains an important common goal. To achieve it, it is important now to fully implement the agreed common steps.
The EU is also ready to conclude negotiations on an upgraded Visa Facilitation Agreement, provided technical details are clarified and that future regulations in the area of transport and mobility do not negatively affect our citizens and transport operators.
We are committed to working together with Russia to make the G20 Summit in Saint Petersburg a success, a success for Russia, but also a success for Europe and for the wider world. In line with our internal work in the EU we hope that growth can be prioritised and that that the G20 can also address other important issue like the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion.
I have said in the past that a strategic partnership like ours needs to be based on strategic trust. These Summits serve precisely to build that trust.
That is why I want to conclude by thanking once again President Putin for having brought us to this great city. Yekaterinburg is not anymore just a frontier. It is today a place where we stretch to hold hands and join efforts for the sake of a better future for our citizens.
I thank you for your attention.