Magazine article Europe-East

Eastern Europe : Reassuring Tones from Commission on Eu-Russia Trade Relations

Magazine article Europe-East

Eastern Europe : Reassuring Tones from Commission on Eu-Russia Trade Relations

Article excerpt

EU dependence on Russian energy supplies emerged as a prime concern for MEPs in an exchange of views with the European Commission in Parliament's International Trade Committee.

Economic relations with Russia and Ukraine were the subject of discussions with Ignacio Garcia Bercero, a Director within DG Trade, on 4 May, which looked at both security of gas supply, and Russian giant Gazprom's ambitions on the EU market.

"Strong interdependence" was how Mr Bercero described the desired energy relationship between Moscow and Brussels, a relationship that needed to be based on "reciprocity". The Commission would like a much more secure legal basis, but is keen to emphasise Russia's status as a reliable supplier. Less content, David Martin (PES, UK) advocated a strict policy towards Gazprom, stressing the danger of becoming "completely reliant", and the need for "great caution".

On the potential for future disputes between Ukraine and Russia to threaten European supplies, a trilateral agreement is not seen as a solution by the Commission at present, despite warnings from Committee Vice-Chair Peter tastny (EPP-ED, Slovenia) that Europe risked becoming a "hostage to a dispute" should action not be taken.

Instead, the Commission's approach is to continue seeking ratification of the Energy Charter, which sets out a legal mechanism in such cases. Ukraine has already done so and pressure is to be brought to bear on Russia in the build-up to the G8 summit in St Petersburg on July 15-17. …

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