Monday

26th Jun 2017

EU to Russia: 'the euro will not fail'

Top EU officials Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso have told Russia that the euro is a safe bet.

The two men spoke alongside Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a press briefing after the 29th regular EU-Russia summit, held on Monday (4 June) in St Petersburg.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Barroso (c) and Van Rompuy (r) at the EU-Russia plenary session on Monday (Photo: kremlin.ru)

Van Rompuy promised to publish a blueprint for deeper EU economic integration "by the end of this year" and predicted that eurozone GDP will grow between 1 and 3 percent in 2013.

"There is no way back for the euro, there is only the way ahead of more integration ... As for what happens if we fail, I will not answer hypothetical questions. We will not fail. We will not fail," he said.

Barroso revealed in a slip of the tongue that Greece - which may have to leave the euro - is on his mind, however.

Speaking about prospects for a new EU-Russia treaty, he said: "I am convinced that with the firm commitment of both sides we will achieve a balanced and ambitious agreement that will be beneficial both for Greece, sorry, for Russia, and for the European Union."

He underlined his ongoing attachment to German-style austerity, saying that "to achieve sustainable growth we need fiscal consolidation."

For his part, Putin praised the EU delegation for its "very determined ... very professional" approach to the crisis. "The outlook is very optimistic," he said.

Forty percent of Russia's foreign currency reserves are held in euros. The EU last year also imported €158 billion of Russian oil and gas.

Barroso and Putin politely disagreed with each other on energy and visa-free travel.

Putin said his energy champion, Gazprom, should not be forced to sell assets in Europe bought before the EU's so-called third energy package became law.

He noted "the ball is in the court of our European partners" on the visa deal and hinted that some member states are blocking it for political reasons.

Barroso replied that the energy laws - which are designed to stop firms such as Gazprom from dominating the market - "will be implemented" whether he likes it or not.

He said the main problem on visas are "technical issues," referring to Russia's non-compliance with EU norms on border security.

There was no repartee on Syria or human rights.

Van Rompuy mentioned in passing the EU wants "political transition" in Damascus. He did not call on Syrian leader Bashar Assad - Russia's ally - to step down or for Russia to agree to UN-level action.

He proposed that the autumn round of the EU-Russia human rights dialogue - behind-closed-doors meetings of mid-level EU and Russian diplomats - should for the first time be held in Russia instead of the EU.

The change is designed to make the talks more impactful. The EU's own officials have in the past lamented that the dialogue has no follow-up.

Neither Van Rompuy or Barroso mentioned Sergei Magnitsky, despite the fact Van Rompuy believes the case is "emblematic" for Russia's international reputation.

The whistleblower lawyer died in jail in 2009 after exposing a tax fraud mafia in the Kremlin.

Neither of the EU politicians challenged Putin when he said "there are no political motives" in the jailing of Mikhail Khodorkovksy - another emblematic case, in which Putin's friends dismantled the country's biggest oil firm after its boss advocated reform.

EU approves rescue of Italian banks

The European Commission gave the green light to a €17-billion plan by the Italian government to save Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca.

Focus

EU and China move to fill US void

At a summit in Brussels, EU and Chinese leaders will attempt to deepen ties on trade and climate as US president Trump plans to pull out of the Paris climate deal.

Italy reaches EU deal on failing bank

After months of negotiations, the European Commission and Italy agreed on the terms of rescue for Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank, including job cuts, salary caps and private sector involvement in the bailout.

News in Brief

  1. Seasoned finance minister takes over Dutch coalition talks
  2. British PM closes government deal with Northern Irish party
  3. Merkel on collision course with US at G20 summit
  4. Schulz outlines German election strategy, hits out at Merkel
  5. Berlusconi's party sees comeback in Italian local votes
  6. Low turnout in Albanian election set to mandate EU future
  7. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  8. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  3. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  4. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  5. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  6. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  7. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  8. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  9. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  10. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  11. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  12. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?