Sunday

29th Mar 2020

Germany wants to bind Russia to EU

Germany is considering a revamp of the bloc's policy towards the east with Berlin looking at how Russia can be "irreversibly" bound to the EU.

It wants to push the new policy when it takes over the presidency of the EU in January - the six-month stint at the helm of the bloc allows the country to promote particular themes.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Europe is bigger than the EU, but EU-Russia relations have not always been easy (Photo: Wikipedia)

"The goal must be to make the political, economic and cultural ties between the EU and Russia – its anchor in a wider Europe – irreversible", says a foreign ministry paper seen by German daily Handelsblatt.

The ministry paper also refers to the "window of opportunity" brought about by having a Finnish presidency followed by a German presidency as both countries want to foster contacts with Moscow.

"A complete European peace regime and the resolution of important security and political problems from the Balkans to the Middle East can only be attained with Russia and not without it," the paper says.

Germany's foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is set to raise this idea when he meets his counterparts in Finland today for informal discussions.

But Mr Steinmeier already alluded to Berlin's thinking on a eastern Europe policy during a speech before the Heinz Schwarzkopf foundation on Wednesday.

"In the EU we need attractive and credible offers for our neighbours," he said.

He said Romania and Bulgaria - due to join the bloc in January - will certainly not be the last countries to join the EU but that the way for other countries interested in joining the bloc would be "sometimes longer and sometimes stonier."

At the moment the EU has signed a series of neighbourhood agreements with the countries that surround it. A carrot and stick approach, these agreements offer a range of trade-related incentives in return for progress on democracy reform.

The bloc's relations with Russia itself are more complex with Moscow seeing Brussels as interfering in its sphere of influence over former Soviet bloc countries such as Georgia and Ukraine.

In 2003, both sides agreed to set up in the long-term an EU-Russia common space covering the economy, justice and home affairs, external security and research.

However relations are often clouded by geopolitical issues - including energy - which have seen harsh rhetoric traded between Brussels and Moscow in the past year.

Already doubts over Belgium's new 'anti-corona government'

Belgium's King Philippe has given interim prime minister Sophie Wilmès the task of forming a government, after seven opposition parties agreed to support it. The agreement came after a political drama - and there are doubts if it will hold.

Analysis

What does Erdoğan want?

By opening Turkey's border, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to push Europe into supporting him in Ankara's negotiations with Russia's Vladimir Putin for a deal on Syria's Idlib.

'Fragmented' Slovakia votes amid corruption woes

Saturday's elections in Slovakia could herald the rise of the far-right People's Party Our Slovakia, or the emergence of a populist anti-corruption candidate, in a country wracked by mistrust since the assassination two years ago of an investigative journalist.

News in Brief

  1. UK health minister tests positive for coronavirus
  2. Orban: coronavirus exposes EU 'weaknesses'
  3. Court orders Netherlands to pay colonial victims
  4. Belgian cat 'infected by coronavirus'
  5. UK PM Johnson tests positive for coronavirus
  6. EU agrees Libya naval mission after Greek solution
  7. US to upgrade its nuclear bombs in Europe
  8. US surpasses China and Italy with 82,404 corona cases

Five new post-Brexit MEPs to watch

Five MEPs to keep an eye on from the 27 new members who are joining the European Parliament this week, following the UK's departure from the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. EU doctors: bring refugees on Greek islands to safety
  2. Russia's top coronavirus 'fake news' stories
  3. WHO warning on lockdown mental health
  4. Virus: Frontex tells officers to keep guarding Greek borders
  5. EU heads struggle to find joint virus response
  6. Poland's sham presidential election in a pandemic
  7. Von der Leyen warns 'end selfishness' in virus crisis
  8. Chinese ambassador to EU: put trust before politics

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us