The 30th EU-Russia Summit held in Brussels on Thursday and Friday led to little consensus on key bilateral issues discussed, such as energy, trade and visa-free travel.
Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the fact that EU rules were applied retrospectively, referring specifically to the EU Third Energy Package, which aims to establish a single gas and electricity market and prevent the suppliers from dominating distribution.
The EU has indeed taken several measures to challenge Russia’s dominance over its energy market, by launching an EU antitrust case against Russia’s gas export monopoly Gazprom, striving to diversify its energy suppliers and adopting legislation to encourage competition. Russia presented the EU Commission’s new proposals on its gas pipeline infrastructure for its export projects in Europe and has been seeking exemptions from EU regulation to use pipelines bringing gas to Europe by routes that avoid Ukraine.
Furthermore, Putin criticized the visa requirement as a restricting factor in the EU-Russia relations and emphasized that Moscow had made visa-free travel between Russia and the EU a foreign policy priority.The EU has expressed its commitment to visa-free travel with Russia, but stressed that a detailed agreement still needed to be chiseled out.
The EU and Russia also failed to reach consensus on the situation in Syrian, another key topic discussed during the summit. The Russian President emphasized that, while his country did not defend current President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and wished to see a democratically-elected government in Syria, Russia would continue to oppose imposing international sanctions against its ally. Russia has vetoes three UN Security Council resolutions aiming to pressure Assad to end the violent repression of the insurgency started against him in 2011.
In turn, the EU leaders voiced concerns over the state of democracy in Russia, emphasizing the importance of civil society in Russia and deploring the increasing number of abuses committed against opposition members.
While no consensus may have been reached during the summit, the Russian president certainly made sure to express all of his country's concerns and discontent with its bilateral relation with the EU. In contrast, the EU leaders seemed almost unprepared for the Russian President’s clearly foreseeable critiques and demands. Nevertheless, they seemed to be content with how the summit went. In fact, at the beginning of a press conference following the summit, President Barroso emphasized that the two partners were making good progress in areas of common interest.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com