Moscow, 11 February 1999
Ladies and Gentlemen
Allow me to welcome you all here today, for this Round Table discussion. I am delighted to be back in Moscow again, and to have the opportunity to discuss with you the subject of cooperation between the European Union and Russian Federation - specifically industrial cooperation.
It is a subject to which I know both the European Union and Russia attach great importance. And, this importance will be underlined later on today by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, outlining our shared intention to work together, even more closely in the future, to improve cooperation in the sector.
The Synergy Programme has developed the Industrial Cooperation Initiative our aim is to analyse the problems, which prevent improved cooperation, and to identify joint actions, which can be taken to address these problems.
A great deal of work has already been done, and a number of discussions on the subject have been held with a wide variety of interested parties. Gathering together, both policy makers and key industrial players, to discuss and agree a framework for cooperation, is the only effective way forward. And, the only way we will achieve our shared objectives.
I am, therefore, particularly pleased to welcome here today the participation of important European Union and Russian companies. I thank you for your interest in these discussions, and look forward to hearing your views on a number of issues which are crucial to the industrial cooperation in the energy sector.
This morning we will address specific issues concerning industrial cooperation. These include barriers to cooperation; the question of finance; issues of common interest, such as the liberalisation process in the European Union and environmental protection, and regional approaches. Allow me to say a few words on the two last points.
It is our common objective to have markets working in an open and efficient way. The ongoing liberalisation process within the European Union is offering a good opportunity to push for integration of markets along the principles of market economy. This will also allow Russia to become fully integrated in these energy markets.
The objectives of the EU's energy policy, competition, security of supply and protection of the environment, offer an ideal framework as approved by the G8 Energy Ministerial meeting last April.
The regional approach to issues in energy is growing in popularity as the benefits of a cross-border approach are recognised.
There are now regional initiatives in the Baltics, the Barents and the Balkans. These are all to be welcomed and encouraged. In a world, where, in business at least, borders are flexible, it is only fitting that policy makers should recognise this, and work together in developing and promoting regional initiatives that reflect the realities of today. Currently we are working on a regional initiative in the Balkans on networks, which I know several people around this table have been closely involved in.
We are also working in the Baltic Sea area. The Energy Ministerial Conference in Stavanger on 1 December 1998 confirmed its commitment to a Joint Energy Programme and agreed a work programme for 1999.
The Commission is actively promoting and supporting some of the events in the work programme, such as the Energy Investment Conference in Riga in April, which I will attend, and a Ministerial meeting in Helsinki in October 1999.
Following the success of the Black Sea Regional Initiative in the Balkans, where the results of the Task Force, including a list of priority oil, gas and electricity interconnections, were endorsed by Ministers of all the countries concerned, I hope that we can achieve similar concrete success in the Northern region.
Later today I will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding together with Minister Generalov, which sets out our shared objectives with regard to improving industrial cooperation between the European Union and Russia in the energy sector.
We believe that the combination of the political will to improve industrial cooperation, as is demonstrated by this Memorandum of Understanding, together with the determination of key players in the industrial sector, such as are gathered here today, is the recipe for successful activities, which will achieve their set objectives.
I am pleased to say that cooperation between the European Union and Russia is good. The Synergy programme has carried out a number of projects over the past few years, with a view to promoting dialogue and creating a shared understanding of the key issues involved. The Tacis programme builds on this understanding by carrying out projects targeted at mutually agreed objectives.
The European Union and Russia are to a great extent mutually dependent on each other, when it comes to energy. It is in the interests of Russia to export its rich natural resources to the European Union, and it is in our interests to ensure that this important source of energy continues. To this end we must do all we can to ensure a good level of cooperation between us.
It is for this reason that I particularly welcome the opportunity for this discussion today with government and industry representatives, so that we can formulate a common view of where we are, where we need to go, and what we need to do to get there. I look forward to the interesting discussions.
Thank you for your attention.