Commission and High Representative propose way forward in EU-Russia relations

Upon invitation of the European Council, the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy presented a Joint Communication on the EU’s relations with Russia. The Joint Communication presents recommendations ahead of the European Council meeting of 24-25 June on how to strengthen the implementation of the EU’s Russia policy, IPN reports.

“History, geography and people bind the EU and Russia. The state of our relationship is complex. We have to identify the challenges and seize the opportunities. The deliberate choices and aggressive actions of the Russian government over the last years have created a negative spiral. Managing the EU-Russia relationship continues to represent a key strategic challenge for the EU. In response, the EU needs to continue to act in unity and with consistency, defending our fundamental values and interests,” said the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, said that under present circumstances, a renewed partnership between the European Union and Russia, allowing for closer cooperation, seems a distant prospect. “Our ambition should be to explore paths that could help change the current dynamics gradually into a more predictable and stable relationship. The EU will simultaneously push back, constrain and engage with Russia, based on a strong common understanding of Russia's aims and an approach of principled pragmatism,” said Josep Borrell.

The Joint Communication reviews the state of implementation of the five principles that guide the EU’s relations with Russia, namely: the full implementation of the Minsk agreements; strengthened relations with the EU's eastern partners and other neighbors; strengthened resilience of the EU; selective engagement with Russia on issues of interest to the EU; people-to-people contacts and support to Russian civil society.

To meet the strategic challenge posed by the Russian leadership, in line with these principles, the Commission and the High Representative propose that the EU simultaneously pushes back, constrains and engages Russia, with the aim of moving towards a more constructive engagement and political commitment by the Russian leadership.

The Joint Communication will be presented to the European Council on 24-25 June. On the basis of this Joint Communication, the Leaders will discuss EU-Russia relations and the way forward in the EU's Russia policy. On the basis of overall developments and guidance from the European Council, the Commission and the High Representative will operationalize the proposals set out in the Joint Communication.

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