NEWS

‘Complementarity’ in EU-US relations; cooperation with Russia in energy sector

The deep division within the EU over the Iraq crisis and the Atlantic unanimity over Iran appear to lead to the conclusion that Europe is destined either to bow to the US or to be politically non-existent. What do you think? This is not a precise picture. When Europeans are united and determined, they are an important force on the international stage. On the other hand, when they are divided, they are unable to influence the course of events. Still, the Iraqi crisis led European officials to step up their efforts to strengthen the Union with the powers required to set up a truly common foreign policy. On its part, the United States knows that it is not in a position to deal with the complex problems of our time on their own. The truth is that none of the great challenges being dealt with on either side of the Atlantic can be confronted without the involvement of the other side. So our goal is to build together a partnership that is effective and balanced, within which the EU will speak with one voice and to which it will bring its own «added value.» It is in the interest of the US to work with the EU within the framework of complementarity. Within that spirit, Europeans and Americans are cooperating in the fight against terrorism, against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and in dealing with regional crises. What are the prospects for a strategic energy alliance with Russia? Should the Union treat the issue using purely economic or primarily political criteria? Since October 2000, the EU and Russia have been holding a dialogue on the energy crisis, which is now within the framework of the «single economic area» agreed at the EU-Russia summit on May 10, 2005. Working groups, for example on investment and infrastructure, meet at regular intervals. The ministers’ council for energy issues met for the first time on the sidelines of the last Russian-European summit, held in London in October 2005. Amid the Russian-Ukrainian crisis early this year, the European Council laid the groundwork for a European energy policy based on security of supplies. The conclusions of last month’s European Council emphasized the the importance of the international dimension of this policy. In view of the June summit, European leaders have asked the Commission and Javier Solana to work out a European strategy for the EU’s international relations in the field of energy. (Russian) President Vladimir Putin’s recent proclamations, which reconfirm that Russia can play a positive role in creating a unified European strategy that respects its obligations to its traditional partners, are encouraging in view of the next EU-Russia summit (scheduled for May 25) at which the energy issue will be raised.