European Union policy towards Russia and Ukraine
This guest web log has been produced by Professor Elzbieta Stadtmuller, Professor of International Relations from the University of Wroclaw in Poland. Professor Stadtmuller is an International Visiting Fellow at the Alworth Institute.
Russia seems to be moving towards an active and individualistic foreign policy. It is concerned with developments on its borders and in its former spheres of influence, including the Ukraine. What is the policy of the European Union (as opposed to the policies of individual states) towards Russia and the Ukraine? How successful can the policy be?
European Union’s policy approach towards Russia and Ukraine is a specific element of the broader question of how to deal with Eastern Europe. The short history of relations contains two periods. The first one, from the 90s, was based on cooperation and economic aid (Phare and Tacis funds) offered to all countries in the East. The second, at the turn of the 21st century divided Eastern Europe into countries of enlargement and those others left behind. The EU of 27 member states promised further enlargement only for Western Balkans’ states, and as for the others – the European Neighborhood Policy (the ENP) as a substitute for enlargement. Russia, amongst these ‘others’, takes a special place.
The Ukraine-EU relationship contains a number of agreements: the Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA), in force from March 1998 (signed in 1994); established cooperation in the framework of the EU-Ukraine Council; the Common Strategy towards Ukraine which was agreed in 1999 (for the strengthening of democracy, for security cooperation, and for increasing economic and cultural exchange); the Action Plan (2004) in the framework of the ENP; and support for Ukraine in the accession to the WTO (2008). Between 1991 and 2001 the EU offered also Ukraine over 1 billion euros in support and became its second biggest trade partner after Russia. However all these documents avoided the word ‘membership’. This fact was accepted by the Ukraine with difficulty, particularly after the ‘Orange Revolution’. Currently the EU considers (meeting in March 2008) embracing it by the application of Common Market Rules (three economic freedoms) and the exchange of students programmes. This closer cooperation has strong advocates among Ukraine's western neighbours, particularly Poland. But there are also obstacles stemming from the continued instability of the Ukrainian political and economic system and from the fact that Russia is against Ukrainian links with the EU. There are also rivals of the Ukraine with respect to EU policy (the question of Turkey) and funds (the Mediterranean states).
Russia’s story of relations with the EU contains the PCA, agreed in 1994 and in force from July 1997 (now under revision) and the four ‘road maps’ (agreed at the St. Petersburg Summit of May 2003). This ‘road map’ embraces: a common economic space - including a specific reference to environment and energy; a common space of freedom, security and justice; a space for cooperation in the field of external security; a space of research and education, including culture. But the core of relations goes much beyond formal agreements. On the one hand Russia is a special and precious partner of the EU member states in many areas, such as European security, the global order, and economic relations. On the other hand the EU members are obliged to ask themselves how far they can disregard the ‘democratic deficit’ in Russia and Russian demands to be treated exceptionally. Controversial concerns include the Energy Pact/bilateral disagreements on trade and delivery of energy. A main concern is Russia’s very different ‘philosophy’ of international relations. New chances for overcoming troubles are likely to appear in June 2008 during the EU-Russia meeting.
The EU is shaping its current policy towards Eastern Europe with difficulty. Enlargement is now finished, for a while at least. The Neighbourhood Policy has not enough instruments, funds and legitimacy to be an efficient tool to influence the Eastern neighbourhood. Moreover a common foreign policy approach of all 27 members towards Ukraine and Russia has not yet been achieved.