LEUVEN – After successfully adopting its first decision this morning, the Ministers of the Council came together to start negotiations on the new EU-Russia Partnership for Modernization and some common grounds have been reached quickly.
One of the main issues on the table is the importance of the Russian energy supply to the European Union. Some Member States, especially those closer to the Federation, are to 100% dependent, while others face a more diversified energy supply.
The Council has started negotiations on the modernized version of the Agreement keeping in mind important challenges such as climate change and the crisis of democracy in Russia. Today, the Council agreed upon focusing on the field of energy supply and security, one aspect of the Agreement very important to many states.
Russian gas is making up for 32,6% of total oil imports and even 38,7% of total gas imports making it one largest importer of fossil fuels to the EU. However, many Ministers are concerned about not only secure energy in cold winters but also how the EU can have an impact on the political modernization of the Russian Federation.
Ongoing oppression of the press and any opposition, a low level of democratization and the suspicion of unfair elections shed a shadow on the Eastern neighbor. The ministers are aware of it and it appears that they want to speak with one voice to Russia. If it is possible to present Europe as united while bargaining, the Ministers might have a chance to actually reach a groundbreaking agreement. Provided, that internal problems such as the significant dependence of some states can also be solved. They will not be a pawn of the powerful force of the East anymore, but will be determining the agreement more than they have in the past.
A new, more self-confident approach towards Russia may be a starting point for the EU as a whole to finally become a world leader as a union. This Council has the ability to reach up to that.