The relationship between the European Union (EU) and Russia has been going through a difficult phase with disputes over energy supplies, foreign policy issues, and tension between Russia and individual Member States. The change of presidency in Russia provides an opportunity to take stock and to consider whether this deterioration can, and should, be reversed.Russian politicians emphasise the importance of the relationship. This report discusses how the relationship might be developed in practice. It examines Russia as a European country, its recent history, and the current economic situation in Russia. It then considers the institutional framework for Russia-EU relations, including the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement.The Committee believes closer co-operation should be fostered in several areas of common interest: economic; freedom; security and justice; research and education; and, culture.Energy is an important subject - there are concerns about whether Russia can supply sufficient gas and oil to meet its current and foreseeable domestic demand and international commitments. The security of energy supply to the EU is vital.The Russian view of international security issues is also very different from that of the West and developments close to Russian soil are a very sensitive geopolitical area. Russian support for Serbia is contrasted with their co-operation on Iran. The two sides work together usefully on the Middle East, terrorism, non-proliferation, and other issues.The EU should continue and strengthen its efforts to reach common ground with the Russians on such international issues but should also speak out if the Russian government falls short of the standards it has formally accepted in a number of international agreements.
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