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New priorities for the future EU-Russia Strategic partnership

Executive summary – Seminar GlobalEurope 2020 (Moscow, December 18-19, 2008)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I- Preamble

II- Strategic and operational perspective

III- Work synthesis

Introduction

1. EU-Russia strategic cooperation in the field of finance and economy: how to contribute to found a new sound and balanced economic and financial order?

2. EU-Russia strategic cooperation in the field of security and defence: how to initiate an architecture of security for Europe in the 2st-century and contribute common leads to global security?

3. EU-Russia strategic cooperation as regards to our common neighbourhood: how to conceive together regional equilibriums securing peace and prosperity for the concerned societies?

4. The governance of the future EU-Russia Strategic Partnership: how to invent a governance adapted to 21st-century requirements, combining flexibility of management, capacity of anticipation and reactivity?

Conclusion

IV- Appendix

Seminar’s programme

List of participants


Preamble

The world is going through a historic crisis putting an end to the systems and powers which dominated the world since the end of the Second World War. In a few weeks time, the dynamics that fueled processes of globalization and endless market expansion in the past 20 years suddenly collapsed. International relations in every field (financial, economic, monetary, strategic, diplomatic…) are submitted to a complete reorganization.

This global context places the future EU-Russia Strategic Partnership in an entirely new perspective. In order to cope peacefully with the inevitable tensions that will appear between two geopolitical entities of this size, or to contribute to the re-foundation of a system of global governance adapted to the 21st-century requirements, the European Union and Russia both know that they are two major players having to address not only their own citizens’ expectations but also the expectations of many other regions in the world, eager to see some stability injected into the current global chaos.

In consideration of this new global context, and in line with the results of the previous GlobalEurope EU-Russia seminars (Warsaw 2004, Moscow 2005), this third seminar aimed at defining the main lines of what should become the new priorities of the future EU-Russia Strategic Partnership. The recommendations resulting from the debates and expressed by the organizers are meant as decision-support instruments for EU and Russian policy-makers to put the Partnership on the right track as soon as possible. The extent and speed of the current global crisis indeed request that some practical strategic cooperation is implemented very soon between the two entities.


Strategic and operational perspective

1. The circumstances are now ideal to build up a partnership, as each partner knows he is weaker than he thought one year ago. Since the Georgia crisis, the EU knows that Russia is no longer ready to play a game that is not suitable for them too, while Russia has painfully discovered during the past months that its mineral and energy riches alone are not sufficient to ensure power in the future. These two simultaneous changes have enabled this seminar to adopt a realistic state of mind that was not so obvious during the previous two sessions.

2. According to the prevailing opinion in this seminar, the global economic crisis is the main constraint weighing on the evolution of EU-Russia relations in 2009. According to LEAP/E2020, this is a positive factor because it compels the two partners to face common challenges.

3. The pursuit of stability will be central in the future EU-Russia relation: stability in energy prices, stability in the common EU-Russian neighbourhood, stability in the economic and financial environment, stability in the process of bilateral relation, stability in European security. The EU-Russia partnership will be organized along an « exchange of stabilities » between the two entities.

4. Stability-detracting elements will progressively be contained or curbed: non-European influences, political, military or economic « coups », partner’s division,… A central trend in EU-Russia relations in the next two years will consist in identifying and curbing all the elements likely to destabilise their relation.

5. The framework of implementation of this partnership will have to,fit with the characteristics of the coming decade’s EU-Russian relation, i.e. a dynamic and changing relation. The plane model (which the two partners are major builders of) is probably a better inspiration than the bridge model. Like any aircraft, the partnership needs an engine to provide the energy needed to progress, wings to fly, a cabin to carry passengers and freight, and a cockpit to be piloted. A supplement should be added to this list: a control and maintenance office, and of course the runway for the plane to take off. In the case of the EU-Russia partnership, these various elements correspond to the following:

. the engine is financial and economic (including energy of course). That is where the dynamics of exchange and daily practical interests lie. These sectors also provide the most powerful and dynamic players, i.e. companies. But these companies must be real ones (not corporations under more or less direct state control, like in Russia today), and they must really be in a European or Russian perspective (not under the influence of other prevailing interests, like in the case of a number of European companies, in fact serving US interests). It could be embodied in a yearly summit of the economic and financial leaders of the two areas; and above all in a variety of practical projects involving SMEs or larger groups from the two entities.

. the cabin is the administrations, EU and national ones on the European part, mostly federal on the Russian part. It is indeed quite logical to ask civil servants to ensure the whole scheme’s solidity and durability. But their role should be reduced to that. They are neither the engine nor the leaders, or the partnership will turn into a bloatware with no future. However, the entire follow-up process of the partnership should be their responsibility, by means of committees and programmes.

. from the cockpit the orientation is assumed. From there political leaders give the impetus, in particular during their yearly EU-Russia summit gathering European and Russian leaders. One summit a year is enough to ensure the adequate agenda: orientations only.

. the wings, of course, are essential despite the fact that they are often forgotten in this kind of partnership thus doomed to failure. These wings are all the scientific, cultural, academic, civil society… cooperations, providing the partnership with the adequate wingspan for two entities as big as the EU and Russia; and with the proper resiliency due to their inertia in time (these projects are often spead over 3 to 5 years) protecting the partnership from short-term political hazards, enabling it to glide even the cockpit or engine meet temporary difficulties.

About maintenance, or more precisely about the evolution of a necessarily dynamic relation: a process of evaluation every 5 years will ensure that the strategic partnership keeps “sticking” to reality and to the two partners’ needs.

As regards the runway, it is obviously the two entities’ common neighbourhood. Georgia and Ukraine provide two perfect illustrations of moments and events in fact contributing to shape up the partnership. As indeed, to be sustainable, this partnership cannot be built in symposiums and chancelleries only. It must also develop on the field, in times and places of tension, by the contributions of all sorts of players, financial, economic, academic, scientific ,… as well as state contributions.

6. From the seminar’s discussions, LEAP/E2020 has identified four short-term actions – implementable in 2009/2010, i.e.:

. a joint EU-Russia action during the upcoming G20 Summit in London, intended ask the central question of the creation of a new global monetary system based on a basket of major currencies, rather than on the US dollar only

. holding in 2009 of a big conference on the new security architecture in Europe, intended to succeed to the system inherited from post-WWII and the Cold War era, and where the EU will become a key-player in the continent’s security

. definition of a general agreement on energy price and supply stability in Europe for the two partners to create a sound economic and financial base for their long-term relation

. setting up of a process of common neighbourhood conflict anticipation, integrated to both the Council of Europe and OSCE schemes.


Work synthesis

Introduction

During two days, diplomats and experts from the European Union and from Russia gathered in an International conference entitled « New priorities for the future EU-Russia Strategic Partnership » jointly organised by the European Study Institute of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and by the Laboratoire européen d’Anticipation Politique / Europe 2020.

The meeting was primarily concerned about three key strategic fields and about the key-operational issue of the governance of this EU-Russia Strategic Partnership:

1. EU-Russia strategic cooperation in the field of finance and economy: how to contribute to found a new sound and balanced economic and financial order?

2. EU-Russia strategic cooperation in the field of security and defence: how to initiate an architecture of security for Europe in the 2st-century and contribute common leads to global security?

3. EU-Russia strategic cooperation as regards to our common neighbourhood: how to conceive together regional equilibriums securing peace and prosperity for the concerned societies?

4. The governance of the future EU-Russia Strategic Partnership: how to invent a governance adapted to 21st-century requirements, combining flexibility of management, capacity of anticipation and reactivity?

The financial and economic crisis entails significant changes compelling the European Union and Russia to imagine new forms of cooperation. The current crisis therefore provides a unique opportunity to tie up new links and new exchanges. The Russia/Georgia conflict, EU and NATO enlargement, as well as all the energy-related tensions, revealed the lack of understanding and the distrust currently prevailing in EU-Russia relations. These topics must therefore be included to the future Partnership.

1. EU-Russia strategic cooperation in the field of finance and economy: how to contribute to found a new sound and balanced economic and financial order?

As the dollar-based system collapses, the financial link between the European Union and Russia gains momentum compared to the link that exists between each of them and the United States. Russians and Europeans have to find an alternative solution to the central role played by the dollar, and set up a new organisation.

Economic competition is extremely important between the European Union and Russia, in particular in the post-Soviet area. In fact, a protectionist war is going on and distrust is still the rule when it comes to investments. In order to improve cooperation between the two partners, Russia’s accession to WTO is essential. A process of legislative adjustment is prerequisite to any Common Economic Space road map. European Union and Russia will have to agree on the reciprocity of adjustments.

Companies and big projects, such as the trans-Siberian or the common market, will be the engines of the partnership. Then on, the new agreement must facilitate the settlement of Russian companies in the European Union, as too many failures still characterise the relation between the two partners.

Energy and finance can provide the lines along which solutions will appear. If Europe needs a save supply, Russia also needs stable outlets for its production.

2. EU-Russia strategic cooperation in the field of security and defence: how to initiate an architecture of security for Europe in the 2st-century and contribute common leads to global security?

As far as Russia is concerned, there will be no question of a partnership with the European Union in the field of security and defence as long as Europe has not defined clear structures and has not initiated its own strategies, independent from NATO’s.

The conflict between Russia and Georgia, even if it revealed problems of communication between the West and Russia, resulted in fruitful examples of understanding. The EU and Russia made compromises on topics that used to be frozen until then. For the first time, Russia allowed European forces into the CIS, thus paving the way to even closer relations. Cooperation between the European Union and Russia in the field of piracy fight or collaboration of Russian and European contingents in Chad underline an increasing will for exchange and communication. Russia’s participation in EU-conducted operations is now a possibility while the existence of complementarities between European and Russian forces have been demonstrated. The creation of a quick reaction force would be the symbol of a major step forward.

However cooperation in the military field is not the only one that needs to be reconsidered. If NATO is taking charge of armed conflicts nowadays, other seats of tension will gain momentum as the economic crisis unfolds. Problems of demography, immigration, global warming… will require enhanced collaboration on behalf of Russia and the European Union. The Russian military strength will find in the European Union an experienced partner for all the issues requiring an alternative approach to armed force. Euro-Russian cooperation could be decisive as regards Afghanistan as well as in the field of fight against terrorism, drugs and nuclear proliferation. A close cooperation in the field of aerospace would also benefit the two partners who already worked on complementary civil and military technologies.

EU and Russia share a “common space of dangers” because fight against terrorism, against drugs, as well as problems of immigration and smuggling, travel from the EU to Russia and vice-versa. None of the two partners can expect to become a power comparable to the US, China or India if they keep spending the money and energy protecting from one another instead of cooperating.

The main obstacle on the way to this collaboration relates to the issue of NATO (and also EU) accession fueling discord between Russia and the US, but also between Russia and the European Union. On the one hand, the EU must guarantee to Russia that it will not enlarge further East, and, on the other hand, Russia must make a choice between discussing with the EU as a whole or playing on its divisions among Member-States.

Rather than wait for the other to adopt a coherent strategy, Russia and the European Union should set up a forum to debate the fields where they could cooperate and to make a list of what their populations consider as threats to their security. These threats can be of different sorts, knowing that the aim is to build for the Russian and European populations the conditions for a comfortable situation.

3. EU-Russia strategic cooperation as regards to our common neighbourhood: how to conceive together regional equilibriums securing peace and prosperity for the concerned societies?

The future EU-Russia partnership, as regards their common neighbourhood, should build on already existing partnerships. Some joint EU-Russia investments in Eastern European cooperation, Black Sea synergies, Central Asia policies worked together,… will stabilize and develop the areas common to the two partners.

The values which the next EU-Russia partnership will be based upon must be defined together. The EU – or the West – has no right to make the final decision. Values advocated by the West vary too much for that, as the Western reaction to the Palestinian election proved.

One should make sure that the formats resorted to by the EU and by Russia and compatible. If any modification is added to the legislation of one CIS country, both partners must right away be informed for any blockade to be avoided.

Russia must be invited, but it must also accept to take part in the different cooperation mechanisms set up by the EU. At the moment, because Russia does not wish to join the EU, it tends to find useless taking part in these programmes when in fact it would be the opportunity for Russia to be represented and present its points of view.

4. The governance of the future EU-Russia Strategic Partnership: how to invent a governance adapted to 21st-century requirements, combining flexibility of management, capacity of anticipation and reactivity?

The structure of the next partnership should be dynamic in order to avoid repeating past errors. It is better to think of the future EU-Russia partnership as a plane rather than as a bridge. Indeed, the previous agreements suffered from being incapable of adapting to change, from too much importance granted to the leadership and from mostly administrative implementation mechanisms.

Knowing that former organizations take long to pass away, NATO must be taken into account in the future EU-Russia relation. OSCE and the Council of Europe are also useful organizations but their fields of competence must be clearly defined (e.g. renewable energy). New exchange platforms will appear due to the financial crisis. The institutional mechanism of the future Strategic Partnership should therefore be flexible enough to incorporate pre-existing components and to add new ones.

Cooperation in the field of education, science, environment are on the long-term and not too political. Therefore this type of cooperations will contribute to keep the partnership active; they are the wings of the plane. The Council of Europe could be incorporated to them because it is in a position to associate other countries and because it can provide a proper recipient for the funds the partnership needs.

Energy, finance, companies and security will provide the engines for the new partnership.

The plane’s body, its structure will be taken care of by the administrations, while policy-makers will of course be in command. Summits must be organized in order to clarify each party’s positions. However, if the pilots happen to lack the necessary enthusiasm and creativity under certain circumstances or at certain moments, the other components of the partnership will ensure the partnership’s stability and continuity.

Dialogue should be central at every level: institutional, intergovernmental, interparliamentary. And a set of tools must be designed to ensure continuity (a legislative committee) and to make sure that populations are properly incorporated to the process.

Conclusion

This 3rd GlobalEurope seminar on « The New priorities of the future EU-Russia Strategic Partnership » highlighted the fact that a closer cooperation between the European Union and Russia can have beneficial effects not only on the two concerned partners, but on the whole continent and on global security and stability.

The increasing willingness for communication and exchange between the European Union and Russia proves that the two partners are now aware that they will face the same challenges in the next decades. Then on, it becomes obvious that enhanced policy coordination and the setting up of processes of joint reaction will be needed to meet populations’ expectations and international responsibilities.

EU relations to the world are changing and Russia is the first test of this change. Other partners, Turkey in the first place, will then understand that this kind of partnership is a first-class agreement once Russia has built one with the EU.

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