EU-Russia deal on enlargement ‘very close’
BRUSSELS: The European Union and Russia are “very close” to an accord on their future relations after the EU’s imminent expansion, and could announce a deal at ministerial talks next week, officials said on Wednesday.
In any case, the extension of a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) to encompass the EU’s 10 new members is guaranteed to happen before the enlargement on May 1, they said.
European Commission president Romano Prodi and seven other members of the EU executive are to visit Moscow on Thursday and Friday.But Prodi’s spokesman, Reijo Kemppinen, indicated that a breakthrough on the PCA negotiations was more likely at a meeting in Luxembourg next Tuesday between an EU team and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“Naturally from our point of view it would be very good if that could be confirmed tomorrow (in Moscow),” Kemppinen told reporters.
“But in any case we expect that to be confirmed in time for next week’s cooperation council meeting.”
The comprehensive PCA needs to be rewritten to take account of the entry into the EU of 10 mostly former Soviet satellite states once beholden to Moscow. Russia, long apprehensive about the EU’s expansion up to its borders, fears it will lose out from the end to preferential trade tariffs with its former Warsaw Pact partners. —AFP