‘The war and peace’ of EU-Russia relations

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

The Portuguese presidency will not be able to change the substance of relations between the EU and Russia in the next six months, says Elena Prokhova in an 11 July paper for the EU-Russia Centre. However, this period will represent the start of a much-needed period of reflection by both sides, she argues.

The paper considers the ”war and peace” relations between the EU and Russia, with regard to developments in EU-Russia relations over the course of successive presidencies. The Portuguese Presidency’s mission on the Russian dossier is quite simple in comparison with the two previous presidencies, notes the author. Indeed, a new EU-Russia agreement is no longer expected in the near future, she says. 

The mission of the German Presidency was more complicated, she notes. Angela Merkel had to deal with a new EU-Russia partnership – a priority of the German Presidency – and undo the political damage caused by her predecessor’s private dealings with Putin and Gazprom. 

Moreover, the anti-European sentiment in Russia had increased following the Russian-Estonian squabble, as Europe had to support the Estonian side, observes the author. 

The chain reaction of animosity has finally generated a widely-shared viewpoint that the new member states and Russia have too many differences, she argues – adding that their relations would therefore be difficult while these transition countries struggle to define their respective national identities. 

Nevertheless, after a period of crisis in EU-Russia relations that provoked frustrations on both sides, a more positive attitude has recently evolved, the author says. 

According to some Russian analysts, the EU will see the advantages of an EU-Russia partnership as soon as the constitutional issue is solved, notes Prokhorova. As a result, the question of how EU-Russia relations will evolve is still open, she concludes. 

Subscribe to our newsletters