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History of the Delegation to the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee (D-RU)

Since 1997, EU-Russia inter-parliamentary relations have been marked by periods of intense exchange, linked to positive developments in EU-Russia cooperation, but also by turbulence.

Problems in the relationship emerged in response to the second Chechen war in 1999-2001, the Russian-Georgian war in 2008 and the Ukrainian crisis since the fall of 2013.

The first 17 years

From 1997 until 2014, the European Parliament's Delegation and a Delegation from the Russian Federal Assembly held 16 joint meetings through the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, the inter-parliamentary forum established by the EU and Russia in 1994. The two sides also met in numerous thematic working group meetings. The frequency of meetings testifies to the European Parliament's serious commitment to advancing EU-Russia cooperation.

During this period, the role of the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee was gradually enhanced, gaining more recognition from the executive branches of power.

The European Parliament's Delegation met with high-level officials of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and prominent politicians in Russia.

In 2004-2013, the Delegation monitored bilateral activities in four policy areas, referred to as "EU-Russia common spaces":
  • the economy and the environment;
  • freedom, security and justice;
  • external security;
  • research and education, including cultural aspects.
The Delegation also supported the EU's and Russia's 2010 initiative to establish a "Partnership for Modernisation" - a new cooperation framework to promote reform, enhance growth and raise competiveness.

However, the European Parliament's Delegation was obliged to acknowledge that negotiations to create a new basic agreement for deeper EU-Russia cooperation had broken down in 2010.

Since 2014: more troubled times

Since its creation, the Delegation has helped to shape the European Parliament's positions on Russia - the positive as well as the critical ones.

The Delegation has been particularly active since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis.

The European Parliament has continuously affirmed its support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine. It has condemned the annexation of Crimea by Russia in May 2014 and Russia's actions to destabilise Ukraine, which have led to an ongoing murderous military conflict in the Donbas region. The European Parliament has consistently called for the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

Since March 2014, and as a result of the Russian activities in Ukraine, the EU has imposed restrictive measures (sanctions) against Russia, mainly consisting of economic measures, including:
  • restrictions on Russia's access to EU capital markets,
  • an embargo on the import and export of arms and dual-use goods,
  • limits on Russia's access to certain sensitive technologies and services that can be used for oil production and exploration, and
  • travel restrictions and a freeze on assets for a list of Russian individuals and entities involved in the Ukrainian crisis.
The list includes Sergey Zheleznyak, Member of the State Duma, who is the chair of the Russian Federal Assembly' Delegation responsible for relations with the EU.

Following the diplomatic measures taken by the EU as part of its sanctions against Russia, the Parliament's Delegation has not met its Russian counterpart since early 2014.

In June 2015, in response to Russian authorities' disclosure of a "stop list" of EU politicians and officials (including several MEPs) who were banned from entering Russian territory, the President of the European Parliament decided to formally suspend the Parliament's engagement with the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee. The Russian 'stop list' is not based on any specific justification and therefore, as opposed to the EU list, the persons affected cannot introduce an appeal.

Looking towards the future

Since inter-parliamentary relations were suspended, the nature of the Delegation's activity has evolved and adapted.

However, the Delegation remains determined to contribute to a constructive relationship between the EU and Russia, in the interest of both sides, and in order to face global and common challenges. The Delegation also hopes to restore relations with its Russian counterpart in the long run.

To that end, the Delegation has reflected and debated on areas of common interest to the EU and Russia, including global issues, such as:
  • international peace and security,
  • climate change,
  • fundamental freedoms and human rights,
  • the EU's and Russia's common neighbourhood,
  • trade,
  • energy,
  • migration,
  • science,
  • education and culture.
The Delegation also works to promote a common understanding of the issues that divide the EU and Russia.
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