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Plenary Speech on EU-Russia trade relations following Russia’s accession to the WTO

On 25 October 2012 Silvana Koch-Mehrin held a speech in plenary on the EU-Russia trade relations following Russia’s accession to the WTO:

“Madam President, while Russia and the European Union enjoy a very intertwined and intense relationship and today we are not only neighbours, but fortunately we are friends, the Liberals and Democrats also welcome the accession of Russia to the WTO after eighteen years of negotiations. It was high time indeed. I think it is good news for Russia but also for the European Union. Why? Because we can hope for a relationship based on clear rules and clear applicability. If we look at what happened to China after it joined the WTO, we can see that the growth and the success story of China really began with that date a few years ago.

So I hope this will happen for Russia as well and that Russia can also envisage an extreme success story after the significant date in August this year. But I would also like to raise two concerns, two challenges. One has already been mentioned by Mr Sefčovič and other colleagues, and that is that Russia does not seem to be willing to live up 100 % to its obligations which come with the accession to the WTO but is instead undertaking some extensive and potentially restrictive trade measures like the examples which have already been mentioned.

The second point I would like to make is that we have to look at the business environment in Russia. Russia has always been a very proud nation with a rich culture, with inventions and esprit ; Nobel Prize winners and astronauts have come from Russia. We all know about these important landmarks in Russian history. But why is it that today – apart from maybe vodka, caviar and Gazprom – we do not really know of any Russian brands? Why is it that they do not really thrive? Why are there not Russian success stories? I think this has to do with the applicability of the rule of law and human rights, and I think it is good that it has been raised in our resolution. It comes in a timely manner, because next week we go to Moscow and can discuss it there.”