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Speech by Mr. Christos Papoutsis, Member of the Commission, Responsible for Energy, Enterprise Policy, Commerce, Tourism and Social Economy,Launch of Industrial Cooperation Initiative
 
 

 
Moscow, 11 February 1999

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am pleased to be here today to launch the Industrial Cooperation Initiative and sign the Memorandum of Understanding with my Russian colleague, Minister Generalov.

This Memorandum reflects the importance we all attach to the question of industrial cooperation, particularly in the energy sector. It underlines the fact that we all, government and industry, have to work together to achieve our aims. Good cooperation is a two-way game, where both parties benefit.

The last time I was in Moscow was to attend the G8 Energy Ministerial in April last year. At that Ministerial we underlined the need for international cooperation to meet the world energy requirements in the next century.

Energy is of vital importance to everyone in many different ways. The European Union depends to a great extent on supplies of energy, particularly oil and gas, from Russia's rich natural resources. European Union and Russian companies are constantly seeking new ways of working together, to make the most of the opportunities good cooperation, in this sector, offers to both parties.

This morning we held a Round Table discussion, which brought together European Union and Russian companies, the EBRD, representatives of the Ministry of Fuel and Energy and representatives of the European Commission.

We discussed the issue of industrial cooperation in its broadest terms, covering topics such as finance, liberalisation and regional cooperation.

I hope that this morning's meeting will be only the start of more regular contacts between the European Union and Russian Federation, which involve the key players in industrial cooperation - that is industry itself.

European Union-Russian cooperation, which has strengthened and deepened over the past few years, has recently been placed on an even stronger footing by the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

While the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement sets the framework for such discussions, within this framework, the European Union carries out actions through a number of programmes which directly and indirectly support industrial cooperation.

Firstly, the Synergy Programme, which developed the Industrial Cooperation Initiative, has facilitated dialogue between the EU and Russia through this and other projects, including a project to improve dialogue at a policy level.

Secondly, the European Union's Tacis programme provides a wide variety of instruments to target specific areas identified by both sides as priority areas for actions. Through the Industrial Cooperation Initiative we would like to assist in the targeting of these instruments to the energy sector, where this is most appropriate.

As many of you will be aware, Tacis is changing to reflect the wide-reaching changes, which have taken place since it was set up back in 1991. The new Tacis programme will focus on cooperation, rather than assistance. This is a significant shift in emphasis, which will, we hope, better reflect the new reality that is Russia today. We would like to work closely with Russia in developing programmes under Tacis.

Cooperation is also being promoted through a regional approach. One important initiative I would like to mention is the so-called "Northern Dimension". Broadly this encompasses the Baltic and Barents regions, and I know that here we share a common interest.

Another regional initiative concerns the promotion of energy interconnections in the Balkan region. The Commission set uo a special Task Force, financed by the Synergy Programme, to promote the efficiency and co-ordination of energy interconnections in the region. 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 in November 1997, including of course Russia. Given the importance of Russia as a supplier of primary energy resources, I hope that you will continue to be actively involved in further actions.

Energy market liberalisation in the European Union is continuing well. It is an exciting process. And, already, great progress has been made, particularly in the electricity sector, where many countries have chosen to progress further than originally envisaged, with some opening up their markets one hundred percent. Through this process the European Union energy market is more open.

But, this should be a two-way process. While there has been progress in opening the Russian market to investment, notably the passing of the Production Sharing Agreement laws in December, there are still a number of important steps to be taken to facilitate investment the energy sector.

The Energy Charter Treaty creates a legal framework which will help promote foreign investments and trade in energy . It is essential for the promotion of effective cooperation and to facilitate investment in Russia that the Treaty is ratified soon.

We are currently, through the Synergy Programme, assisting 9 countries of the Newly Independent States, which have ratified the Charter, to tackle the task of implementing this Treaty. We would be happy to offer such assistance to Russia once the Treaty has been ratified.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The discussions we have held this morning during the Round Table demonstrate that there is a great willingness to work together to achieve our goals.

The promotion of industrial cooperation is a top priority for the European Union, as we see this as a way of effectively bringing together the combined forces of government and industry. The Industrial Cooperation Initiative has been developed to help these combined forces work successfully together to achieve concrete results.

By signing this Memorandum, my colleague Minister Generalov and I have pledged to work together, using all the means at our disposal to improve industrial cooperation in the energy sector between the European Union and Russia. I look forward to a continuation of this cooperation, and to the success of the Industrial Cooperation Initiative.

I thank you for your attention.

 

 

 
Ημ. Έκδοσης:11/02/1999 Share Εκτύπωση
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