Russia, Europe must agree a 'grand energy bargain': EU trade chief

The EU is Russia's biggest trading partner and source of investment, while Europe gets a quarter of its gas from Russia.

Russia, Europe must agree a 'grand energy bargain': EU trade chief
Russia and Europe must agree a "grand energy bargain" and establish new mechanisms to avoid trade rows, European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said on Thursday, a week before an EU-Russia Summit.

Mandelson said the two sides had to move away from "zero-sum thinking" and create a partnership built on trust.

The EU is Russia's biggest trading partner and source of investment, while Europe gets a quarter of its gas from Russia.

Russian and EU leaders are expected to launch long-delayed talks on a new strategic partnership pact when they meet for a summit in the Siberian city of Khanty-Mansiysk.

Brussels says it needs more access to Russia's energy sector to guarantee supplies, but Moscow has been reluctant to open up the industry to foreign firms and is seeking more access for its own companies to European energy markets.

"Let's be honest: each suspects the other of employing double standards, of using the energy weapon as an instrument of politics," Mandelson told a conference in Moscow.

"The best way to put these energy suspicions to rest must be to agree a set of legal principles and commitments that would apply to both of our energy markets equally, upstream and downstream," Mandelson said.

"This is the basis of a grand energy bargain between the EU and Russia: security of supply matched by security of demand; reciprocal openness to investment; guarantees of free transit on both sides."

Chinese model

He suggested creating a mechanism similar to one between the EU and China to ease friction over economic and trade issues.

"Russia is no less important to the EU, and vice versa. So we should consider using the same model," he said.

Mandelson on Thursday met First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, and Minister for Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina.

Russia's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), now close after 15 years of talks, would help foster better trade ties with the EU, Mandelson said.

He warned against any further delays and said WTO members should not block Russia's accession for political reasons. Georgia, locked in a dispute with Moscow over two separatist regions of its territory, is holding up membership talks.

"It is not acceptable for Russia's accession to be taken hostage by exaggerated or politicised demands," he said.

Mandelson said Russia should not assume the EU was "fractured or capsized" as a result of last week's rejection of the Lisbon Treaty in an Irish referendum.

The Irish "No" vote "will not undermine our unity", he said.

The Irish rejection has put the future of the treaty -- designed to prevent gridlock in EU policy -- in doubt beause all 27 EU members must endorse it before it can take effect.

Reuters
Last Mod: 20 Haziran 2008, 11:56
Add Comment