In December of last year, Russia and the EU agreed on moves towards visa-free travel and funds for indebted eurozone countries. An important step – certainly – yet no breakthroughs were reached on perhaps the most important topic of all, energy. Fraught with incidents in recent years, in particular the 2006 and 2009 gas crises with Ukraine end the frequent interruptions of oil supplies through Belarus, mutual energy relations are in need of a positive stimulus.
Key problems over the years have been the differing views on reciprocity in energy market access following the adoption of instrumental legislation both in the EU and Russia, the difficulties to reach agreement on a successor to the 1997 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), and Russia’s role in the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) after its continued refusal to ratify the Treaty. Finally, many commentators and analysts have repeatedly pointed to the seeming inability for the Union to form a coherent whole in its energy relations towards Russia as the source of many of today’s difficulties.
This policy brief argues that the solution to many of these problems can actually be found through making changes within the Union or through creative engagement within the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), rather than focusing squarely on Russia itself.