Sectoral dialogues

Sectoral Dialogues have played a key role in implementing the project of a Russia-EU Common Economic Space. They involve Russian Federal Ministries and agencies, on the one hand, and corresponding Directorates-General of the European Commission, on the other. Objectives and main areas of the Dialogues’ activities are defined in the relevant sections of the Road Map on the Common Economic Space adopted by the Russia-EU Summit in Moscow in May 2005.

At present, Russia and the EU have established 13 dialogues (besides dialogues on “horizontal” issues covering investment, public procurement and protection of intellectual property rights). They differ both in terms of practical content and intensity of interaction between their working bodies. Russia-EU scientific and technological cooperation is self-standing. Being similar to the dialogue format by structure, it is built on the basis of the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the European Community on Cooperation in Science and Technology of 16 November 2000. Cooperation in the field of veterinary and phytosanitary measures is also developing, without being formalised as a dialogue.

Within each Dialogue working groups and sub-groups on specific areas of cooperation have been set up by mutual agreement. Meetings of Dialogues coordinators are foreseen to discuss relevant issues of cooperation and agree action plans. Strategic issues are to be defined at sessions of the Permanent Partnership Council (PPC) at the level of Ministers and Members of the European Commission.

Russia-EU Partnership for Modernisation (P4M) Initiative, officially launched at the Russia-EU Summit in Rostov-on-Don (May-June 2010) has played a positive role in developing Sectoral Dialogues. The P4M extended meeting of coordinators held in Brussels in November 2013 reviewed the state of the Dialogues and projected ways and mechanisms of their further development.

However, in 2014, against the backdrop of an acute internal political crisis in Ukraine, the EU raised a number of baseless accusations against Russia and imposed political and economic sanctions on Russia which have de facto frozen or significantly complicated cooperation within most Dialogues. The leadership of the Russian Federation calls upon the EU to perceive the mutually beneficial character of bilateral cooperation and renew discussion of a positive agenda of the Russia-EU relations.

Energy dialogue

The decision to launch the Energy Dialogue was taken at the Russia-EU Summit in Paris on 30 October 2000. The Dialogue was supposed to focus on the following central issues: ensuring uninterrupted supplies of energy resources from Russia to European Union markets, cooperation in the energy sphere on an equal, mutually beneficial and non-discriminatory basis. The results of work within the Dialogue have been summarised in annual reports - the 13th such Progress Report was issued in January 2014.

In 2013 Russia and the EU signed the Roadmap on Russia-EU Energy Cooperation until 2050, setting out the main goals of cooperation and possible ways to achieve them. However, later the work of the Energy Dialogue was frozen on the initiative of the European Commission. The Russian side believes that prompt renewal of the Dialogue is in the interest of both parties.

Transport dialogue

The Terms of Reference covering principles, objectives and structure of Russia-EU Dialogue in the field of transport and infrastructure were signed on 3 October 2005.

The Dialogue covers the following areas: transport strategy, infrastructure and public-private partnership, road and rail transport, maritime, sea, and inland waterway transport, air transport, as well as transport safety and security. A Russia-EU aviation summit was held in October 2011 in St.Petersburg.

The Memorandum of Understanding establishing the Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics was signed on 21 October 2009 in Naples. It aims at developing and implementing joint projects on transport infrastructure and eliminating administrative barriers in transportation links. The European Commission, several EU Member States, Norway and Russia are parties to the Memorandum. The parties held a high level meeting of the Partnership in December 2014 in Moscow.

Regulatory dialogue

The Regulatory Dialogue on industrial products (standardisation, technical regulation and conformity assessment procedures) was established by the Russian Ministry of Industry and Energy (nowadays Ministry of Industry and Trade) and the Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission on 7 December 2005 in Brussels.

Its thematic subgroups work to approximate positions on harmonisation of technical regulations and standards, as well as approaches to mutual recognition of results of conformity assessment by both sides, and exchange information on new regulatory legislation and standards. The Russian Federal Agency on Technical Regulation and Metrology (Rosstandart) and the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC) signed a Cooperation Agreement on 17 September 2013 in St.Petersburg. The Agreement aims at further harmonisation of respective systems of Russia and the EU.

Dialogue on Industrial and Enterprise policy

The Dialogue was launched simultaneously with the Regulatory Dialogue and is implemented by the same bodies. The parties exchange information on development of certain industries and enterprises (automobile, textile, chemical, aerospace industries, mining and metallurgical sectors, SMEs), on innovations and discuss ways to minimise non-tariff barriers in trade in processing and machine-building industries' products.

Dialogue on information society

The Terms of Reference of the Russia-EU Dialogue on information society were signed between the Russian Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications (nowadays - Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communication) and the Directorate-General for Information Society (nowadays – Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology) of the European Commission in Brussels on 7 December 2005.

The Dialogue provides a framework to discuss the development of information society, telecommunication markets, regulatory legislation in Russia and the EU, as well as projects implemented by the parties in the sphere of information and communication technologies. Topical are considered issues of electronic identification, international roaming tariff reduction, coordinated use of radio spectrum and Internet governance. The parties work to identify prospective areas of cooperation, including joint scientific research projects, inter alia within the framework of public scientific research programmes.

Dialogue on space cooperation

The Terms of Reference for the Russia-EU Dialogue on space cooperation and the Joint Statement establishing the Dialogue were adopted on 10 March 2006 in Brussels by the Russian Federal Space Agency, the European Commission and the European Space Agency.

“Soyuz at Kourou” project is one of those developed within the Dialogue. The parties agreed on practical steps for 2014-2016 regarding the implementation of the joint Mars exploration project. Cooperation on the Cosmic Vision programme to explore Jupiter is being pursued. Talks on a draft agreement in the field of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) are moving forward. The 8th meeting of the Governing Board of the Dialogue was held in Brussels in June 2013 where parties exchanged their views on some prospective areas of space exploration. In February 2014 the parties held consultations on prospects for Russia-EU cooperation in the field of drive-by launches of small satellites; the financing of corresponding projects in the framework of the EU Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme was discussed, inter alia.

Dialogue on agriculture

The Memorandum of Understanding establishing the Dialogue on agriculture and rural development was signed on 11 April 2006 in Moscow by the Russian Ministry of Agriculture and the Directorate-General of the European Commission for Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Memorandum envisages cooperation within three Working Groups: on development of food markets, on rural development, and on scientific and technological policy and innovations in the agriculture. At present, the cooperation under the Dialogue for Agriculture and Rural Development has been suspended on EU initiative. According to the Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation of 7 August 2014 No. 778 on Measures Implementing the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of 6 August 2014 No. 560 on the Application of Certain Special Economic Measures Aimed at Ensuring the Security of the Russian Federation, a ban on imports of a number of agricultural products from the EU was introduced in response to EU sanctions.

Cooperation on veterinary and phytosanitary issues, though not covered by the official Dialogue, was advancing quite actively until recently and was aimed at harmonising the Russian and EU regulatory legislation on safety of agriculture products. Since 2004 the legal basis for cooperation has been developed in the form of Memoranda on specific issues of cooperation between Russian and EU supervision authorities.

The mandate given to the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus in the veterinary and phytosanitary area has influenced cooperation between Russian and EU supervision authorities. Member States of the Customs Union have switched to common veterinary certificates in trade with foreign countries; as a result discussion on these issues was moved to the level of the Eurasian Economic Commission.

The parties hold regular expert meetings on all issues of veterinary and phytosanitary regulation applicable to trade in agricultural products, exchange results of laboratory monitoring of imported goods and inspect enterprises which export or intend to export their products.

Efforts are undertaken to create interface between information systems and software to ensure better control over transportation of products under surveillance and to prevent fraud and counterfeit in trade.

Environmental dialogue

The Terms of Reference for the Dialogue on Environment were signed on 10 October 2006 in Helsinki by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation and the Directorate-General for Environment of the European Commission. The Dialogue includes one working group and seven sub-groups. Main focus areas are convergence of the environmental policies, climate change, water and sea issues, biodiversity and nature protection, forest protection, clean production and pollution prevention.

In 2013 a working group meeting, as well as meetings of sub-groups on biodiversity and on climate change were held in Brussels. In 2014 the parties were preparing to hold a PPC meeting on environment; however, the meeting was postponed on EU initiative at the last moment.

Dialogue on financial and macroeconomic policy

A Memorandum establishing the Dialogue was signed in Brussels on 2 February 2007. The Russian side in the Dialogue is represented by the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economic Development and the Bank of Russia; the EU side – by relevant Directorates-General of the European Commission which deal with economic and financial affairs, related services of the European Central Bank, the European Banking Authority and the European Securities and Markets Authority.

Priority areas of the Dialogue include measures to strengthen the global financial system and the financial systems of Russia and the EU aimed at increasing their reliability, transparency and stability; improvement of macroeconomic regulation, sustainable development strategies, as well as implementation and application of international financial reporting and auditing standards in Russia and the EU, the state of insurance industry in Russia and the EU and prospects of their development.

Plenary meetings of the Dialogue on financial and macroeconomic policies are held, as a rule, once a year, alternately in Moscow and Brussels. So far eight plenary meetings of the Dialogue have been held; the last one took place on 19 November 2013 in Brussels. Some meetings were held at ministerial level (from the EU side - at Commissioner level).

The Dialogue has the following Working Groups: on banking activity and equities (5 meetings held), on insurance (6 meetings), on accounting and auditing (8 meetings), on strategies for overcoming the crisis and sustainable growth (4 meetings). The meetings of the Working Group on strategies for overcoming the crisis and sustainable growth traditionally include consultations on the issues on the G20 agenda.

In 2014 working contacts between the Bank of Russia and the European Commission were maintained on the implementation of EU legislative acts adopted during the recent reform of the regulation of financial markets.

Dialogue on regional policy

The Memorandum of Understanding establishing the Dialogue on regional policy between then Russian Ministry of Regional Development and the European Commission was signed on 23 May 2007.

The Memorandum envisages organisation of workshops on multilevel governance, efficiency assessment of local and regional institutions, management of large infrastructure projects, exchange of experience in the sphere of cross-border cooperation.

A key topic of the Dialogue is cooperation between Russia and the EU in the Baltic Sea Region. An expert group has been established which examines the possibilities of Russia-EU interaction in the region in areas where the Russian Strategy for Socio-Economic Development of the North-Western Federal District for the period until 2020 and the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region have similar priorities. They have been identified as follows: innovations, support to SMEs, environment, social policy issues, transport and civil protection.

Russia and the EU cooperate in the framework of five cross-border cooperation programmes on the basis of agreements between the Government of the Russian Federation and the European Commission signed in 2009. The programmes are the main format of cooperation between Russian border regions and regions of Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, as well as Norway. The total budget of the programmes for the period 2007-2013, which is formed by contributions made by Russia and the EU, amounted to 437 million euros. The programmes allow regions on both sides of the common border to develop cooperation in the areas that they have chosen as priorities. The programmes contribute to the development of direct interregional contacts, socio-economic development of the border territories and modernisation of border infrastructure. More than 200 projects have been implemented in the framework of cross-border cooperation programmes.

Currently, the Russian side is involved in consultations with the European Commission and EU Member States on preparation of the second generation of programmes to run until 2020. In addition, Russia is considering the possibility of its accession to the Baltic Sea Region transnational cooperation programme which is implemented by a number of EU Member States.

Dialogue on fisheries

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Russian State Committee on Fisheries and the European Commission establishing principles, objectives and structure of the Dialogue on Fisheries was signed on 24 April 2008.

In April 2009 the Russia-EU Agreement on Fisheries in the Baltic Sea was signed in Brussels. According to this Agreement, a Joint Managing Committee has been set up. The working bodies of the Dialogue have become operational since 2010. They have held a number of meetings on preventing illegal, undeclared and unregulated (IUU) fisheries, on exchanging quotas between Russian and EU fishery organisations, as well as a number of other issues.

Dialogue on health

The Terms of Reference for the Health Dialogue between the Ministry of Public Health and Social Development of Russia and the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers (nowadays – Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety) of the European Commission were signed in Moscow on 28 May 2009.

Cooperation under the Dialogue covers a wide range of issues, the priority being infectious and non-infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance, cross-border threats to health of population, vaccination, circulation and quality control of pharmaceutical products, fight against tobacco and alcohol consumption.

Dialogue on Consumer Rights Protection

A Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Service for Surveillance in the Sphere of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor) and the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers was signed in Moscow on 22 March 2013. The Memorandum envisages strengthening mutual understanding on policies and legislation in the field of consumer protection, exchange of information and experience in the sphere of consumer protection standards, as well as consultations on topical issues.