chapter  1
16 Pages

Editors' introduction

ByDEBRA JOHNSONPAUL ROBINSON

In February 2004, foreign ministers of the member-states of the European Union (EU) issued a warning that the Union was considering trade sanctions against the Russian Federation, and also thinking of blocking Russia’s application for membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). At issue was Russia’s insistence that its pre-existing bilateral trade agreements with Central and Eastern European states should continue in force after those states joined the Union. The latter, in response, is insisting that once countries join the EU, Russia’s trade relations with them fall under the terms of the EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), so that Russia must deal with them as it would deal with any other Union member. This dispute, alongside other developments, has brought EU-Russia relations to a new position of prominence.