The agreement on what are known as drug precursors was the one tangible outcome of a summit on 3-4 June that failed to produce signals that the two sides are close to resolving their most immediate concerns.
In the days before the summit, Russia’s hopes of securing a visa-facilitation agreement foundered, with the two sides unable to agree on rules for one category of travellers. Russia wants roughly 15,000 of its officials to be able travel to the EU without visas, provided they are entering on government business.
The issue has become indirectly linked for EU officials and national diplomats with an EU call for a moratorium on a Russian decree that would require airlines to submit air-passenger data to the Russian authorities from 1 July. EU sources say that the Russian demand “could have an extremely damaging impact on air travel”.
The EU also failed to secure the strong political signal it had been seeking that Russia will act swiftly to resolve the most pressing of current trade disputes: Russia’s imposition of recycling duties on imported cars. The EU says it will refer the issue to the World Trade Organization on 1 July. On Friday (31 May), the Russian parliament began debating whether to rescind the requirement.
A European Commission official said that settlement of the issue by 1 July would require the Duma to show the alacrity previously exhibited only when passing restrictive measures on Russia’s civil society.
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