Inese Vaidere, rapporteur. − Mr President, this bilateral agreement is very necessary although not perfect.
By joining the WTO, Russia has committed to gradually reducing or eliminating its existing export duties on a list of raw materials. However, not all the essential goods are covered. For that reason, the EU has negotiated this agreement. A key achievement is Russia’s commitment not to impose new or additional export duties. In the event it would like to do so, Russia should consult the European Commission at least two months in advance.
There are also a few shortcomings. Firstly, the wording in the agreement does not make it binding enough. Secondly, no bilateral dispute settlement mechanism is foreseen. There are not too many tools for the EU to enforce this agreement if Russia does not fulfil its commitments. Therefore, this agreement should be seen as a temporary solution until it is replaced by a legally binding agreement included in the new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.
Let me conclude by saying that the agreement is an important step towards stabilising the trade relationship between the EU and Russia. It does not eliminate unpredictable behaviour from Russia, but nevertheless will improve trade relations. I call on you, dear colleagues, to support the agreement by voting in favour of it.