ISSN 2330-717X

Russia-EU Visa-Free Travel: Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

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By Svetlana Andreyeva

The adoption of a step-by-step plan of introducing visa-free travel between Russia and the EU will be one of the key issues at the 28th Russia-EU summit in Brussels on the 14th -15th of December. President Dmitry Medvedev is at the head of the Russian delegation and the EU delegation is headed by the chairman of the European Council Herman van Rompuy and the head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso. The parties have already prepared the list of compulsory measures: the introduction of biometrical passports, the struggle against illegal migration and border control. These measures are expected to be taken after the 15th of December. In addition, talks between President Dmitry Medvedev and the EU leadership are planned in Brussels. The Russian president will also participate in the round-table talks between European and Russian industrialists.

Talks on visa-free travel between Russia and the EU have been in progress for many years but only now can we see light at the end of the tunnel. The worked out phased plan does not require signatures and experts expect it to be implemented within a year. After that, talks on visa cancellation will start.

However, this is an important but not the only issue to be discussed in Brussels. The aim of the summit is to sum up the results of our cooperation in various fields. The current summit is taking place in a difficult atmosphere for the EU. Assistant of the Russian president Sergey Prikhodko says:

“The summit is especially important because of the current stage of the financial crisis and the situation in the eurozone. Decisions that are to be taken in the near future will refer to the financial field. These decisions will have a practical significance for us, with due regard for trade turnover and mutually growing investments of both the EU countries in Russia and Russia on EU territory. We would like our joint efforts to allow Europeans to overcome the problems that endanger eurozone stability and may have a bearing on cooperation with Russia.”

Commenting on the policy of the UK, which refused to sign the new budget agreement with the EU stipulating tougher financial discipline for EU member-states, Sergey Prikhodko said:

“We have no specific opinion on the UK policy. We can draw a parallel with the CIS here. We observe integration processes in the CIS that happen at a different speed. The advanced group includes Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. On the other hand, there are countries in the Eurasian Economic Community that are only planning to join the CIS. We have agreements on free trade in our commonwealth. I do not mean that the EU is following in our tracks. We are proceeding from small beginnings to large aims and they seem to be stepping on the brakes at the moment.”

The issue of international security will also be raised during the Russia-EU summit. This issue includes the situation in North Africa and the Middle East, the Iranian nuclear programme, Kosovo, the Southern Caucasus and Transnistria. As usual, Russia will stand up for its fundamental approach to the settlement of these problems, which consists in the supremacy of international law and the coordinating role of the UN and its Security Council.

VOR

VOR

VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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