EU-Russia relations: Cold peace?

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The EU’s relations with Russia should be analysed with regards to the EU’s role as a global actor, writes Quentin Perret, from the Robert Shuman Foundation. He points to the US as a key factor in maintaining good relations.

The author explains the causes of the deterioration of the relationship between Russia and the Occident by observing the three global power’s external policies and diplomacies. Russian diplomacy is described as brusque and calculative, American diplomacy as autistic while Europe is characterised as a weak and inflexible diplomacy. 

According to the paper, despite the fact that the Cold War is definitively over, the struggle for power between Moscow and the West still exists. American diplomacy towards the Russian government is unchanged – an example of this conflicting relationship is the recent crisis caused by the reciprocal threats between Moscow and Washington concerning the installation of a missile shield in Europe. 

Concerning the difficulties that affect EU-Russia relations, the EU itself constitutes a major blockage factor, the author claims. The opacity and complexity of the EU decision-making process, combined with the fact that the EU is not able to speak with one voice, hampers the EU-Russia partnership, according to Perret. Moreover, the EU’s internal disputes can only strengthen American policy pre-eminence on security issues in Europe, the paper states. 

However, EU-Russia relations are also characterised by positive outcomes in terms of economic partnership, while improvements have been made in the field of free movement of persons and police and judicial co-operation, the author notes. 

Therefore, he recommends that institutional dialogue, which is currently hindered both by the lack of dialogue between the EU and the United States and the dispersal of the numerous existing EU-Russia forum, be renewed. The author also asks to “separate the different issues” in order to avoid a reconsideration of the successful areas of co-operation between the EU and Russia. 

To access the full policy paper on the Robert Schuman Foundation’s website, please click here.

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