Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen,
The European Union and Russia are tied together into a knot of positive interdependence. In many public statements our relationship is often thus characterized as a ”strategic partnership based on common values”. This touches upon something essen-tial: our interaction and increased cooperation cannot but benefit us both.
The key notion underlying the raison d’être of the European integration is the understanding that no single nation state is any longer able to cope with the multitude of transnational threats and challenges that we face. Only by working closely together with our neighbours, and rest of the international community for that matter, can we succeed in finding durable and sustainable solutions.
The end of the cold war was greeted everywhere with great expectations. In many respects the expansion of democracy and freedom has made the world better and safer. But even if the risk of world war has re-ceded, we are still far from living in an idyllic and peaceful world.
Our perception of the threats we are facing has changed. The likelihood of traditional war between nation states has diminished, but new threats to security have replaced it. These new threats include environ-mental degradation and crises, the consequences of failed states, ethnic and religious conflicts, trafficking in human beings, drugs, organised cross-border crime, HIV/Aids and other new communicable diseases, refugeeism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.
The world is seeking to cope with these threats in our new age of globalisation. Globalisation as such is a continuation of the well known process of internationalisation, that is the growth of economic and politi-cal interdependence. What is new is the effect of new technologies, information and communication tech-nology in particular, which has both quantitatively and qualitatively changed internationalisation so much, that speaking of globalisation as a new phenomenon is well-founded.
Globalisation is, on the whole, both unavoidable and positive, as the deepening international division of labour helps to increase wealth and welfare everywhere in the world. The main challenge of globalisation is, that this increasing wealth is being distributed more unequally than before, both within countries and regions and between them.
The other challenge of globalisation is the inadequacy of national democratic structures to exercise de-mocratic governance over globalisation.
When we talk about democracy, we should talk not only about civil rights, but also of democratic access to resources: education, technology, natural resources, land and water. If market forces are left uncon-trolled the livelihoods of many are endangered. Increasing monetization and transforming of natural re-sources into commodities is threatening the environment.
It is unfortunate if environmental issues are perceived as something that outsiders seek to impose on the EU-Russia agenda. Russia’s environmental problems do worry her neighbours as well, but the most disas-trous effects they have are a burden on Russia itself. One need only refer to the appalling health statistics and life-expectancy figures in Russia which are to a great extent caused by environmental hazards to un-derstand that tackling them has to be a very central Russian priority as well. Our willingness to address them in cross-border cooperation coincides with the interests of all parties in our region.
We in the EU have a multitude on environmental challenges that we need to tackle together with our Russian partners. Nuclear safety, timely ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, maritime safety are the ones which first come to mind. These were all issues that were incorporated in to the historical statement adopted in St. Petersburg 31 May of last year between the Russian Federation and the 25 current and future members of the EU. This was a major achievement.
The other historical decision adopted in St. Petersburg was the creation of four common spaces between Russia and EU. These spaces – justice and home affairs, common economic space, external security and education, science and research – are intended to provide the platform and the framework for our future work. We, for our part, are fully committed to bringing concrete substance to these spaces by preparing detailed action plans to steer the process.
The common spaces thus adopted cover our relations almost in entirety, with one notable exception: environmental protection. Obviously one could argue that environment is a cross-cutting theme which runs across all the spaces but in reality international politics is often less straightforward. This is the reason why Finland has been promoting the creation of an additional fifth common space to ensure that environment continues to remain high on our political agenda. I would say that this proposal has been rather well received by our other partners, including Russia.
One of the key fields of cooperation between the EU and Russia is the harmonization of environmental legislation and norms. This is one of the Finnish priorities also for the future. Alongside with harmonization we support addressing environmental management, capacity building and development of economic tools for environmental decision-making. Promoting environmental investments in order to diminish pollution from most harmful sources, naturally, also remains a priority.
Environmental policies are rooted in economic decision-making, and the private sector has an increasingly prominent role. EU, being the main trading partner for Russia, should require from Russia high and more or less corresponding environmental standards in mutual cooperation. Integration of environmental and social concerns into economic activities are particularly relevant in energy, transport and forestry sectors. Also for Russia this should be a natural part of its commitment to economic integration with the EU.
International climate policies and the role of Russia in addressing human-induced climate change deserve special attention. They are also an excellent example for the discussion on globalisation. Firstly, impacts of climate change are felt worldwide. Secondly, it also requires a global solution. Thirdly, the issue has been addressed through the global decision making system, namely the United Nations.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change entered into force 1994, and it has so far been ratified by 188 Parties. The Kyoto Protocol of the Convention is the first and most important step in the efforts to attain the objective of the Convention. 120 Parties have already ratified it and, as well known, its entry into force depends on Russia. President Putin has stated that before taking the decision on ratification, Russia is examining the pros and cons of ratification. This of course is what we, who have already ratified the Protocol, have also done.
Economic sustainability appears to be Russia’s key concern. It has been suggested in Russia that the commitments of the Kyoto Protocol are not compatible with the national goal of doubling the GDP. In the case of Russia, however, there are good grounds for believing that a win-win situation is possible: Russia’s current emissions are well below its Kyoto commitment because of the economic recession of the 1990s, and the current economic growth does not necessarily lead to a substantial increase.
The Kyoto Protocol reflects the principle that the industrialised countries are to take the first step. New steps are, however, necessary after 2012 if the climate change is to be mitigated. It is necessary to widen the basis and ensure the increased involvement of all major current and future emitters in the global efforts. The world is now getting prepared for a round of negotiations on ”post-Kyoto” climate regime, and the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol is expected as a starting signal for initiating the official process. Even in this respect early ratification by Russia is crucial.
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The enlargement of the EU will further highlight the importance of our relations with Russia. Russia will clearly benefit from her access to an enlarged market. The enlargement will also change the Union in many ways, most notably because from 1 May onwards we will have new immediate neighbours. What is sometimes forgotten is that Russia is not a ”new” neighbour but and old friend, ally and a partner.
The European Union is in a process to further defining the parameters and overall vision of the new Wider Europe/European Neighbourhood policies. This policy will relate to all immediate neighbours of the Union, East and South. It is well understood that Russia, because of her size and role in global politics, is sui generis and that our relations with Russia must be predicated on slightly different aspects. We are, however, convinced that there are elements in the Wider Europe thinking which can well benefit also Russia.
One of these elements would be the envisaged new neighbourhood instrument which seeks primarily to address concrete and pragmatic problems which have arisen from attempts to combine internal and external aid mechanism on and around the external borders. This can clearly bring added value and new impetus to the cooperation over the eastern border.
The new instrument can only be adopted jointly with the new financial perspectives from 2007 onwards. In the meantime we must operate in the framework of so called neighbourhood programmes which seek to simplify the current project procedures to the extend possible within the current legal framework. These programmes are now well underway and their success will be a key determining factor for the content of the new instrument.
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The belief that strong governments are not needed to succeed in the globalizing world economy is errone-ous. Without governments prepared to deal with market failure, redistribute income, prevent marginali-sation and take care of universal education, for example, countries will have a hard time getting the bene-fits of globalization for their citizens. There is also a need for global social and environmental policies. Challenging questions are how to democratize the global governance and how to distribute global wealth. International financial institutions need more transparency and democracy as well as the recognizing the need to move beyond the so called Washington consensus. The national level is not enough for governing the globalization process, but good global governance is not possible without it either. Global solutions must be complemented with national efforts towards democracy and more equal distribution of income, otherwise they will be done in vain.
One dimension of developing a new multilateral system of cooperation is the involvement of civil society actors – both in building the new system and in its functioning.
Transparency and accountability should be seen as guiding principles for both governmental institutions and civil society actors. The civil society continuously demands increased transparency in the decision-making of intergovernmental bodies, as well as proper access to information. Such demands are com-pletely natural and understandable. There is still much to be done to improve institutional practices in this regard.
Secondly, we should make a distinction between participation and decision-making. In governmental and intergovernmental bodies, the owners and the decision-makers are, by definition, the governments. It does not prevent us from developing different forms of very direct participation also for other stakeholders in international cooperation, for civil society actors in particular. Such participation could include, for in-stance, access to real-time information about ongoing negotiations, the right to table proposals and the right to be heard at intergovernmental conferences. But the governments should still remain the responsi-ble and decision-making parties at negotiating tables. Otherwise, we blur the dividing line between the governmental and the non-governmental in an absolutely confusing manner. And we also interfere with the autonomy and integrity of the civil society – in other words, the very guiding principles for the basic definition of what is called the civil society.