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About this book

The relationship between the European Union and Russia is of considerable importance to both partners, but whilst there have been many moments of co-operation between the two, tensions have never been far from the surface and the conflict over Ukraine brought it to a historical nadir. Both have taken steps to strengthen their relationship, but diplomatic stagnation and the challenge of furthering common economic, political, social, and environmental objectives have proved increasingly testing to relations over time.

This important text provides readers with a systematic and comprehensive overview of the historic and ever-evolving relationship between Russia and the European Union, and on that basis discusses what the future of relations could look like. The EU's policy towards Russia can be regarded as one of the toughest tests of the credibility of its external relations, and in examining the dynamics of the relationship, this book poses essential questions about the EU's ability to sustain itself as a meaningful entity in world politics. Written by two experts in the field, it analyses the political and institutional development of EU-Russia relations from three perspectives: European studies, Russian studies and International Relations, including Foreign Policy Analysis.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: European Union–Russia Relations as the Partnership That Failed

Abstract
March 2014 witnessed a dramatic rupture in European Union–Russia relations, and indeed even a collapse of the wider European security order, which had been in gestation for over 25 years. Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the destabilization of the eastern parts of Ukraine that followed, brought the European Union (EU) and Russia to the brink of a severe confrontation with each other as well. The EU imposed a series of restrictive measures; Russia retaliated with its own counter-sanctions; and most of the cooperation was halted. What is more, a military conflict between Russia and an EU member state was seen by many as likelier than at any time since the end of the Cold War. The prognosis for the future is dire, and there seems to be no easy way out of the vicious and antagonistic cycle. The paradox is that neither the EU nor Russia aspired to this state of affairs. The EU favours cooperation with Russia, and vice versa, but the problem, and the story that will be recounted in full on the pages that follow, concerns on whose terms that cooperation should be carried out. The situation resembles a classical dilemma – a tragedy, in fact – where neither side wants the outcome it has obtained, but at the same time both have been unable to alter the policies that have contributed to the problem in the first place. At the end of the book, we will discuss some of the options for how this dilemma could be solved. In the meantime, it is important to probe how the parties ended up in these circumstances.
Tuomas Forsberg, Hiski Haukkala

2. The Political and Institutional Development of EU–Russia Relations

Abstract
The development of relations between the European Union and Russia has taken place in fits and starts and has experienced several ups and downs. It is worth bearing in mind in the analytical narrative that follows that the pendulum swing between phases of optimism and even acute crises and pessimism can only be partially explained by the developments in the relations between the two. This is because the political and institutional development of their relations has not taken place in a vacuum. On the one hand, they have been built upon the legacy and tradition of interaction between the then European Community and the Soviet Union (see Pinder 1991). On the other hand, they have been predicated upon the wider and constantly evolving post–Cold War order both on the global and European levels. In fact, the analysis looks at how the EU has sought to lock Russia into highly institutionalized, indeed post-sovereign arrangements, with a view to creating an essentially unipolar Europe based on the EU’s liberal norms and values (Aalto 2006; Haukkala 2010) and Russia’s evolving responses to that project. This chapter traces and discusses these themes by providing an overview of the political and institutional development of relations between the EU and Russia. The emphasis in the analysis is placed on the post–Cold War era, but a brief historical narrative of relations between the European Community and the Soviet Union is also provided, as it is useful in terms of setting the scene – and to a certain extent also the subsequent tone – for the developments that have followed.
Tuomas Forsberg, Hiski Haukkala

3. Actors in EU–Russia Relations

Abstract
The question of who or what the key actors are, and what consequently constitutes the EU’s own actorness, is vexing, indeed perennial, in the study of EU foreign policy (Allen and Smith 1990). Another question concerns to what extent the EU can be seen as representing a much more metaphysical civilizational entity called ‘Europe’ or ‘the West’. These questions must be tackled in the context of EU–Russia relations. At the same time, it is equally important to ask what kind of actor Russia is. Although as a sovereign nation-state it is a more traditional kind of entity, it nevertheless has, like all countries, its own idiosyncrasies that need to be examined. There is a thick philosophical and conceptual debate over the nature of agency, actorness and the role of collective actors in social sciences in general, and in the study of international relations in particular (Wight 2006). Drawing on the work of Barry Hindess (1989: 132), an actor can be conceptualized as ‘a locus of decision’ that has the ‘means of reaching decisions and of acting on some of them’. According to this view, not only humans but also more aggregate entities, even as multifaceted and complex as the European Union, or the Russian Federation for that matter, can be accorded with the ontological status of an actor. The fact that certain individuals have been empowered to make decisions and speak and act on behalf of such entities gives us reasonable grounds to use the shorthand ‘ Russia’ and ‘the EU’ in the following.
Tuomas Forsberg, Hiski Haukkala

4. Economy, Energy and Environment

Abstract
Despite its political and institutionalized nature, the true foundation of EU–Russia relations is economic. This was already reflected in the PCA, which is largely an economic agreement aiming at the eventual development of a free trade area (FTA) between the EU and Russia (see Chapter 2 for a discussion). The history of EU–Russia relations since then can be read as a series of attempts by both parties to kick-start the ailing process of economic convergence and integration with a view to arriving at a common economic space ‘from Lisbon to Vladivostok’. This chapter provides an overview of the economic relations between the EU and Russia, starting from trade and investments and moving on to the repeated attempts at solidifying and institutionalizing these relations with a view to arriving at an eventual free trade area. This is followed by a discussion of energy relations, which highlights the dual problems of close interdependence and the growing contestation concerning the ‘rules of the road’ for managing those relations and consequent interdependence. The chapter also briefly touches upon environmental cooperation, including attempts to halt climate change. The chapter concludes by discussing the impact of the sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukrainian conflict, and the economic relations between the two increasingly alienated strategic partners.
Tuomas Forsberg, Hiski Haukkala

5. Justice and Home Affairs

Abstract
One of the key goals of the EU has been to promote good governance, human rights and democracy in the world (Manners 2002; European Council 2003; Keukeleire and Delreux 2014). This goal has also been regarded as central to the EU’s relations with Russia, but its relative importance in comparison to other goals has been much disputed. There are those who consider that democracy promotion has been a utopian goal and that trying to push the agenda has been counterproductive, leading to grave problems in the relationship, while others have suggested that the EU has only tried to foster this agenda half-heartedly, and hence it has not only undermined its own values and principles but also contributed to the problems in EU–Russia relations. Still a third group sees the EU as not being genuinely interested in promoting noble goals, but just advancing its own self-interest hypocritically under the pretext of universal values. All the groups, however, agree in their own way that the EU has not been particularly successful in this area (see Saari 2010a). Although traditionally it has been the EU that has taken the initiative to foster and influence a set of democratic values in Russia, more recently we can also discern increasing Russian attempts to shape the understandings and developments concerning human rights and democracy in Europe. However, to argue that this is an area where the partners compete with their systems of values and related interests is simplistic and neglects the perspective that these issues have also been very much a part of the common agenda. Indeed, and despite President Putin’s repeated professions of how ‘the West’ took advantage of Russia’s temporary weakness during the 1990s to impose a set of alien norms and values upon it, it is worth remembering that originally in the PCA, Russia did, in fact, both subscribe to and eventually also ratify this agenda (see Chapter 2).
Tuomas Forsberg, Hiski Haukkala

6. Security and Defence

Abstract
The EU and Russia have been developing cooperation in the field of foreign and security policy, including defence, since the early 2000s. It is worth pointing out that security issues fell outside the remit of the PCA, and cooperation between the erstwhile Western European Union (WEU) and Russia in the 1990s was mainly informal and irregular (Assembly of the Western European Union 1998). In EU– Russia relations, this field started to be relevant only when the EU had first formed its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and complemented it with the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP, later the Common Security and Defence Policy, CSDP). In the Four Common Spaces initiative of 2003, cooperation in this area was defined as the space for external security. Despite some clear common interests and natural synergies, cooperation in foreign, security and defence policy between the EU and Russia has not developed much. There were some high expectations in the early 2000s that the two could move rapidly towards positive developments in the field of security, but for several reasons very little of a concrete nature was achieved, prompting one of us to wonder back in 2004 ‘why the opportunity was missed’ (Forsberg 2004). Russia warmly welcomed the creation of the CSDP, only to be subsequently frustrated by how it evolved (Merlingen 2012: 226). One problem was related to institutional questions as the EU could not offer Russia the status it craved in this area: Moscow wanted acknowledged decision-making, or at least shaping rights, whereas the EU was mainly interested in preserving its own autonomy as a fledgling security actor (Webber 2001).
Tuomas Forsberg, Hiski Haukkala

7. Science, Education and Culture

Abstract
Cooperation between the EU and Russia in the field of science, education and culture is an interesting field to look at because it represents ‘low politics’ – issues that are traditionally seen as less important from the perspective of political decision-makers – but also ‘soft power’ – tools that can wield general influence in politics. These issues are therefore not entirely devoid of political purpose and content. On the one hand, the field can be seen as an area where cooperation between the parties could be continued and extended despite political conflicts, as well as a potential vehicle for overcoming some of the barriers to ‘higher’ political cooperation. If the key problem in EU–Russia relations derives from stereotypical views of each other and a relative lack of practical experience of working with each other, then scientific, educational and cultural cooperation would be a functional way of enhancing the depth of the partnership. On the other hand, cooperation in this field can also be perceived as a one-sided and biased strategy to influence the views and images each has of the other. EU–Russia cooperation in the scientific, educational and cultural field, known as the fourth of the common spaces, has been marked by achievements but marred by a lack of progress. It enjoyed its golden era in the early 2000s, when Russia joined the Bologna Process, but more recently all kinds of obstacles to cooperation have become visible. Initially, the models and principles advocated by the EU were seen as shared objectives, the ties expanded and clear results were achieved. Although more disagreements related to the shared norms and objectives in this field started to emerge in the 2010s, and cooperation was affected by the increasing tensions in the relationship in general, it did not come to a complete standstill due to the Ukraine crisis.
Tuomas Forsberg, Hiski Haukkala

8. The ‘Common Neighbourhood’ and Regional Cooperation

Abstract
The question of a ‘common neighbourhood’ – that is, the countries residing between the EU and Russia – and the interaction of the policies the EU and Russia have adopted for their respective neighbourhoods, is one of the most difficult and pressing issues in EU–Russia relations (Averre 2009a; Carnap and Trotskyi 2014; Bechev 2015; Smith 2015). It was, indeed, where the clash in 2014 between the EU and Russia took place, and that is why it is essential to ask whether the divergent and incompatible views concerning the region were, in fact, the root cause or just a symptom of the deepened conflict between the two. The question of a ‘common neighbourhood’ is closely intertwined with the question of EU enlargement. As already noted in Chapter 2, the issue of EU enlargement has been historically contentious, but not always equally so. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union viewed enlargement with suspicion and even outright hostility. During the 1990s, the Russian Federation approached the topic in a much more relaxed manner, even flirting at times with its own eventual membership in the Union, but it helped that the former states of the Soviet Union, apart from the Baltic states, were not intent upon becoming EU members. Since the early 2000s, however, the debate has taken an increasingly fractious turn, as the EU approached what Russia regarded as its vital zone of interests.
Tuomas Forsberg, Hiski Haukkala

9. Explaining EU–Russia Relations

Abstract
During the more than 20 years that EU–Russia relations have existed in the institutional sense, the scholarly literature on the topic has expanded. To a large extent, the literature has been descriptive and/or prescriptive, and policy-oriented in nature. Various think tanks and research institutes have been more visible in the field than universities. The research has posited some general explanations (Prozorov 2006; Pursiainen 2008; Haukkala 2010; Sergunin 2016) along with some issue-specific attempts at explication (Medvedev and Neumann 2012; Kuzemko 2014), but there is no concentrated academic debate on the competing explanations concerning the nature of EU–Russia relations. Explanations are often embedded in the analysis, but they are not systematically developed, tested or contrasted with alternative explanations. They are also often singular, ad hoc and related to events and political leaders rather than general patterns or complex mechanisms. As a consequence, EU–Russia relations do not figure to any significant degree in general IR discussions dealing with the accuracy and utility of various theoretical approaches and explanatory models (Schmidt-Felzmann 2015: 605). With the Ukrainian conflict marking the end of an era in the relations between the EU and Russia, it is high time we revisited various theoretical approaches to the topic. Such an exercise is needed not only for the purposes of academic rigour but also to gain a better understanding of how the ruptured relations could possibly be repaired.
Tuomas Forsberg, Hiski Haukkala

10. Conclusions: The Past and the Future of EU–Russia Relations

Abstract
In this book, we have provided a comprehensive overview and analysis of the evolution, or perhaps degradation, of EU–Russia relations. The purpose of this concluding chapter is not to summarize the findings of the previous chapters. To that end, we have offered comprehensive sectoral conclusions along the way. Instead, this chapter revisits the question of why the partnership failed by looking at what the way forward could look like. On the preceding pages, we have painted a vivid picture of a drawn-out political process between two ‘strategic partners’, which has included several ups and downs but which has also always been imbued with deep promise, meaning and importance by both parties. Yet the sum total of a quarter of a century of deepening interaction and institutionalization is grim indeed: Currently, the relations between the EU and Russia are steeped in a deep crisis, if not a dead end. Despite a flurry of activities over the years, undeniable successes have remained few and far between. On the contrary, mutual disillusionment has set in, with the conflict in Ukraine resulting in an open rupture in relations. A longer period of malaise and tensions between the EU and Russia seems to be in the offing.
Tuomas Forsberg, Hiski Haukkala
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