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Relations Between European Union And Russia Politics Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 3595 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The principal purpose of this report is the analysis of two full-text, peer-reviewed e-journal articles. First I will define what the authors’ studies were about and I will continue the authors’ purposes for this study and address several issues regarding the European Union and Russia relations. Also by analyzing the data from the chosen articles I will be able to identify how the study fits into current literature and discuss the methodologies used by both authors. I will explain the authors’ findings based on their articles and will flow these findings into one discussion using the main results. Additionally, by comparing the writer’s points of view we will be able to understand each author’s opinion in regard to these issues. I will discuss the contributions these studies made to the current knowledge in the subject area. This paper will conclude with the meaning of these findings.

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The following paper will be based on the two articles retrieved from the “E-Knowledge Portal” of the Logistics Department Website and my own opinion. This paper is based on two articles that covered the subjects of the EU and Russia relations. The first article, “Russia-EU: The Partnership That Went Astray,” was written by the Russian author Fyodor Lukyanov in August 2008, who is the editor-in-chief of the Russia in Global Affairs magazine. The next article, “All for One? EU Member States and the Union’s Common Policy Towards the Russian Federation,” was written by Anke Schmidt-Felzmann, who is a lecturer of international relations at Maastricht University.

I chose these authors because they are from different countries allowing me to view the opinions and findings from two unique perspectives. I found that both offered interesting points and were successful in describing most of the issues with regard to EU-Russia relations.

For example; Fyodor Lukyanov, who is from Russia (the world’s major hydrocarbon, oil and gas supplier, but not a member of the EU). Lukyanov (2008) based his research on articles, research studies, surveys and political speeches. One of the purposes of his study was to show how EU-Russia relations were a timeline of major events. He also discussed politicians’ actions towards these relations during the presidency of Vladimir Putin and Boris Yeltsin. This study was one of several studies done by this author about global development issues and published in his Russia in Global Affairs journal.

On the other hand, Anke Schmidt-Felzmann is from Europe, which is Russia’s largest client for oil and gas. The author based her research on results from surveys and interviews as well as a review of published material including more than 70 papers, articles, etc. The main purpose of her investigation was to analyze the relationship between the EU and Russia, identify any influence of the member states on the EU’s external relations with Russia or on EU policy. Generally, the author’s study was about the EU’s structural complexity and common policy towards Russia. This study was her latest publication on this topic, which reflects a history of issues which are still continuing in EU-Russia relations.

The Methodology Used by the Authors

At the beginning of his research Lukyanov (2008) defines what the EU is. Next he gives survey results showing the Russian attitudes towards Europe. Later in his study he goes back to the oil prices comparison and includes a timeline for the major events of the EU and Russia relations. The author accessed his sources mostly online and used them to validate his research. Also Lukyanov (2008) referred to political speeches in regards to different issues and also used these as an example of proof for his point of view. According to his writing style I can see that he is pretty critical and straightforward. He covered a lot of political actions and results from these actions.

Schmidt-Felzmann (2008) includes an extensive literature review of different studies as well as interviews conducted on her own. Her study represents more than 70 research studies, articles, and interviews and the author’s own investigation regarding EU-Russia relations. During her research she interviewed EU member state diplomats and journalists, as well as civil servants. She tried to explain the EU member policies and its affect on relations with Russia; she also provides some insight into what may have caused the relations to go so poorly. Her article provides an analysis of the economical and political differences of both parties. The author gathered a significant amount of information regarding the topic so she can cover all the major aspects of it.

Research Findings

Lukyanov (2008) starts his article with the three definitions of the EU. “First, we have the image of an unprecedentedly unique voluntary union of nations that are united by common values and mutual striving for progress and justice.” (Lukyanov, 2008, page 1107) Or, in other words, which means EU is the union of countries taking part in the economic and political unification of Europe and participating in the world economy as one economic union. Next he defines the EU as a growing empire which tries to impose on Russia its own views, norms and rules. The last definition is that the EU is an association where the economy is so regulated that it falls into stagnation. These definitions may explain the changes in the Russian attitude towards Europe over the past 15 years. As an example the author provides a survey results from March 2007. “Some 38% felt that Russia was part of Europe…However, 45% felt like Russia was not in full measure a European country…A total of 49% against 34% considered that European countries were not in favor of the rise and strengthening of Russia.” (Lukyanov, 2008, page 1107)

At the same time Schmidt-Felzmann (2008) starts her research with the explanation of the EU policy. She states that it is really important for the member states to be consistent, so they can use their combined resources and capabilities more efficiently.

“The lack of coherence is, in no small part, a direct result of the EU’s structure and working mechanisms. Considering the multitude of actors from separate institutions, and different branches or sections within them, involved in the policy-making process at the EU level it is hardly surprising that unity and consistency are difficult to achieve in relation to Russia.” (Schmidt-Felzmann, 2008, page 170) This statement gives some insight into the complexity of EU-Russia relations.

Even though Russia and EU are two neighboring entities, they have been following different development paths. “No two EU member countries display the same political, historical, ideological, cultural and religious background conditions in relation to Russia.” (Schmidt-Felzmann, 2008, page 170) All these differences between Russia and all 27 members of EU determine the impact on the fulfilling their national interests and needs. According to Schmidt-Felzmann (2008) the EU has been progressing from an economic cooperation into a political union. On the other hand Russia followed the totally different path from the authoritarian to the democratic system. Yet at the same time, both entities are very dependent on each other.

  But let’s start with the beginning of the EU-Russia relations even though the relations do not look back on a long history. In other words there were no official relations set up between the two until Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms. EU-Russia relations were frozen during the Cold War and until the 1980s, but in 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev introduced democratization as a major element in developing relations with Europe. EU-Russia relations stared with “the agreement on establishment of official relations between the European Economic Community and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance in 1988.” (Schmidt-Felzmann, 2008, page 173) The next year appeared a ten-year trade and cooperation agreement between the European Commission (EC) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), although this agreement did not last very long because the Soviet Union fell apart and Russia gained sovereignty in 1991.

Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and the Northern Dimension

Three years later the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), the first important legal instrument between Russia and the EU was signed for an initial period of ten years, beginning in December 1997 (the PCA expired in December 2007 and has not been renewed). According to Schmidt-Felzmann (2008) this agreement was first and one of the major steps in the development of EU-Russia cooperation. Mainly the PCA provided a legal basis for continuing political dialogue between Russia and the EU, as well as it covered four areas; trade and cooperation in economic matters, justice and home affairs, bilateral cooperation which energy falls under as this is an area requiring specific cooperation. According to Lukyanov (2008) the main goal of this agreement was the integration of Russia into Europe, without declaring a membership in the EU. At that time it looked like Russia was going to follow the same directions as other EU candidate countries, but it never happened because of the size of the country, differences in the economy, culture and social spheres.

The next step in the EU and Russia relations was the Northern Dimension policy framework in 1999, covered trans-border cooperation between EU and non-EU regions. It was held due to Finland EU accession, which means that Russia had a common border with the Union member for the first time. One of its main purposes is to integrate Russia into European structures throughout this cross-border cooperation.

Common Strategy on Russia (1999-2003) and the Russian Medium Term Strategy

Next period in the EU-Russia relations was the Common Strategy (CS), which was created to make clear the vision and implement the objectives of the European Council regarding Russia. This agreement was adopted in 1999; the main goals were to make the dream of the bilateral partnership to come true. The main four principles for a strategic partnership were to consolidate the democracy, the rule of law and public institutions, to integrate Russia into a common European economy and social sphere, to cooperate to strengthen the stability and security in Europe and to address the common challenges on the European continent.

According to both authors the next step in the relations was during the Vladimir Putin political term. The first time Vladimir Putin was introduced at the informal EU summit was as prime minister in 1999 and a year after he became a president and started his policy towards the integration with Europe.

“The spring of 2000, despite fierce criticism by the EU of developments in Chechnya, saw the beginning of an obvious warming of Russia-EU relations.” (Lukyanov, 2008, page 1109)

Both authors emphasize the interdependence between EU and Russia in the energy, gas and oil sectors. Putin started his presidency presenting energy relations as one of the major factors of cooperation, but later energy was considered as a Russia’s power, political matter and a factor of tension. That is why ensuring access to energy resources involves negotiating with a variety of external factors. On the other hand Russia considered as an abundance of concentration in not only raw materials but also in the positioning of its energy policies. At the same time Russia has always been considered as one of the major powers and world’s largest supplier of hydrocarbon.

Consequently the EU-Russia energy sector is the forum in which the diplomatic fallout between the two most acute. At the same time energy security has become a part of national Russian foreign policy building, but not a policy instrument. Other issues is that the EU and Russia clearly have opposite interests on oil and gas, with Europe that wants to depoliticize this relationship and Russia that made a politicized oil and gas relationship basic part of its foreign policy towards the Europe. Russia is the EU’s third largest trade partner, with Russian supplies of oil and gas building up a large percentage of Russia’s exports to Europe.

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“Yet, the oil level has become a strong stimulant and has given a boost to the process of Russia’s new self-assertion in the world.” (Lukyanov, 2008, page 1108) At the same time Europe gas market has not a unified, West Europe gas market are lager and but diversified, although in East Europe the markets are smaller and more dependent on Russia. At the same time one of the major EU requirements for Russia was to raise home gas prices to the world level and this approach became general in Russia and EU relations later on.

From the start of his presidency Putin was trying to take an advantage of the use of its energy resources and contribute to the strengthening and securing the position of Europe in the world. In April 2001 Putin Russia and EU established energy dialogue with the empathized on the integration with Europe as a goal of Russian foreign policy. “If regional conflicts arise somewhere, Russia is ready to supply additional amounts of hydrocarbons to compensate for a possible drop in supplies to the European market. I am saying that in earnest.” (Lukyanov, 2008, page 1109-1110)

According to Lukyanov (2008) the period between 2002 and 2005 was the time of switching from declarative relations to practical. Russian and EU relations seemed to improve for a few years. It did not last long. And after the Lithuania and Poland EU accession the tense conflict between the parties about Kaliningrad has taken place.

“We are offered a solution that will actually mean only one thing, namely that the right of a Russian citizen to free communication with his or her relatives living in one or another part of the country will depend on a foreign state’s decision.” (Lukyanov, 2008, page 1110)

Kaliningrad was one of major disputes in the mid-term strategy, due to its unique geopolitical location it is considered as a pilot region for bilateral cooperation and dialogue. It has always been dependent on Russia and the EU decisions as well as its socioeconomic developments are regulated not only by Russian federal authorities and legal acts but also the EU’s.

It should be noted that Russia and the EU have different interests in relation to Kaliningrad. While Russia stresses the issues of its sovereignty and hard security (the loss of sovereignty over Kaliningrad in light of recent EU and NATO enlargements), the EU on the other hand is more concerned with matters of soft security (illegal migration, cross-border crime, smuggling, pollution, the spread of diseases, and trafficking of humans).

There were many additional bilateral problems including a ban by Russia on Polish meat exports, a ban for Denmark to export of pork to Russia. There were and still are several unresolved issues in the cooperation between Russia and European Union, and the reason for that is the nature of partnership and the lack of actions taken to resolve them. “The official EU stance had always been that bilateral disputes between member states and Russia are just that-bilateral matters-and should involve the interested parties only…Most of the bilateral disputes involving the small(er) member states are needed being resolved by direct negotiations, with the assistance of the European Comission.” (Schmidt-Felzmann, 2008, page 174)

According to Lukyanov (2008) with the rise of oil prices Russian political system dramatically changed and it brought even more problems in the EU-Russia relations. Europe was trying to take a control over the energy market after the period 2003-2004 and make Russia to raise gas prices at home to the world level. “The period from the summer of 2005 to the autumn of 2006 was the most interesting time. Russia and the European Union launched an experiment designed to put aside the values issue, a matter of heated debates over a long time, and start building their mutual relations on the basis of interests only.” (Lukyanov, 2008, page 1112) But it is impossible to base relations on the interests if the interests are objectively diverse in many issues. Although the both parties tried to work it out with concentration on the mutual benefits instead of having disputes on different subjects.

The last and most current agreement was the plan for Four Common European Economic Spaces, signed in St.Petersburg in 2003. This considered as a first co-development path for both parties and a new important stage in the EU-Russia relations. The strengthening of the mutual relations by giving substance to the concept of the four spaces are, which are: economic, which should lead to a free trade area; external security, deals with counter-terrorism; freedom security and justice, which includes the cooperation between the police and border authorities; and educations, research and culture. This agreement was considered the major step in the Russian integrations into the European framework. However next five years did prove the expected results. Putin was still following the idea of exchanging assets and set up an energy questions as a top priority, so there was nothing changed in the relations between both parties. Putin’s presidency ended in 2008 but the problems stayed the same.


 According to both authors the relationship between EU and Russia has been the most divisive factor in both foreign policies towards each other. In her research Schmidt-Felzmann (2008) states that one of the major problem in development mutual a strategic relation between two parties was the lack of coherence in the EU policy on one hand. And there were big differences in the economies and politics on the other hand. “When agreement among all 27 states cannot be achieved at the EU level those states that have the resources to do so will pursue their policies bilaterally with a likelihood of success, whereas the member states that lack the necessary capabilities and are therefore unlikely to achieve their goals bilaterally are likely to persevere at the EU level.” (Schmidt-Felzmann, 2008, page 172)

As a result the relations between the EU and Russia are full with numerous problematic questions. Russia and EU are two significant powers, with an apparent interdependence and a dramatic number of complex issues involved. According to Schmidt-Felzmann (2008) the lack of a clear positions and coherence from the EU complicates the situation even more, because the EU needs to behave as a union if it wants to succeed in the relations with its largest neighbor. At the same time it seems like many of the bigger EU members pursue their own interests and goals with relations to Russia instead of following the unified policy.

According to Lukyanov (2008) there were some different reasons why the cooperative approach in the EU-Russia relations did not succeed. First reason is a difference in the approaches to international institutions and rules. Second is the failure of Western principles which leads to a failure in producing the desired results. Third reason is that Russia does not need to integrate in the EU, because it will never be alone.

In my opinion relations between the EU and the Russia leave considerable room for improvement. According to both authors at present this relationship is mainly characterized by a mutual lack of understanding, caused by a lack of knowledge and communication between both parties. Also their images about each other are rather more negative than positive. An initiative of these relations needs to be taken to overcome distrust and preconceptions, which is urgently needed to bring about a turning point in EU-Russia relations. The future dialogue between both should be driven by openness rather than skepticism by both parties, so they will be able to listen and actually understand each other, because the development of strategic partnership has been and still is the most important, most urgent and has been and is now the most challenging goal in the relations between the EU and Russia. Good strategic relations are very important for both parties, so they should try to work out a coherent strategy, that is applied consistently and with mutual agreement.



Lukyanov, Fyodor. (August 2008) “Russia-EU: The Partnership That Went Astray.” Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 60 Issue 6, page 1107-1119, 13 pages. Retrieved from the “E-Knowledge Portal” of the Logistics Department Website on March 1, 2010.

Schmidt-Felzmann, Anke. (August 2008) “All for One? EU Member States and the Union’s Common Policy Towards the Russian Federation.” Journal of Contemporary European Studies, Vol. 16 Issue 2, page 169-187, 19 pages. Retrieved from the “E-Knowledge Portal” of the Logistics Department Website on March 1, 2010.


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