The EU and Russia: before and beyond the crisis in Ukraine - European Union Committee Contents


The EU Sub-Committee on External Affairs of the House of Lords, chaired by Lord Tugendhat, is launching an inquiry into the relationship between the European Union (EU) and the Russian Federation. The Sub-Committee seeks evidence from anyone with an interest. Written evidence is sought by Friday 24 October 2014. Public hearings will be held from July 2014 and the Committee aims to publish its report to the House, with recommendations, in the first half of 2015.


The Sub-Committee's inquiry will examine recent relations between the EU and Russia and consider how recent events should help to shape future relations. The Committee will consider the proximate and structural causes of the recent crisis in Ukraine and Crimea, including EU actions and the consequent Russian response, how the EU handled the crisis, and how the EU has handled relations with Russia's neighbouring countries. This will provide the background for the Committee to understand the strategic intent of Russia and the EU towards each other and to assess how the EU and its member states should conduct their relations with Russia. The inquiry will also assess the EU's current approach to relations with former Soviet republics and ask how the EU should structure its relationship with these former Soviet republics.

The Committee will also look at the means by which both sides conduct their foreign policy towards each other. Trade, business and investment form a significant part of the strategic tool-kit on either side. This inquiry will consider how this economic interdependence in key economic sectors (including but not limited to hydro-carbons, professional services, finance, consumer goods and the food and drink sector) is determining EU foreign policy decision-making and strategic intent. The inquiry will consider if the business environment in Russia, in particular corruption, uncertain rule of law, barriers to business and the role of the state in the commercial sector is having an impact on the business environment in the EU. The inquiry will also seek to define the criteria, framework and means through which the EU and its member states should conduct their relationship with Russia so as to develop a mutually beneficial economic relationship with Russia where the EU is able to safeguard its values and promote its strategic interests.

Particular questions raised to which we invite you to respond are as follows (there is no need for individual submissions to deal with all of these issues):

EU and Russia acting in the shared neighbourhood

(1)  Looking at recent events in Ukraine and Crimea, what was the trigger for the crisis? What were the proximate and structural causes of the conflict? How did the EU respond to recent events in Ukraine? What lessons can be learnt from recent events for EU policy in the neighbourhood?

(2)  In the recent past, how has the EU handled its relationship with Russia?

(3)  How has the EU developed its relations with former Soviet republics in the shared neighbourhood? How has the EU managed the balance of its relations with countries in the shared neighbourhood and with Russia? How has the EU responded to Russia's relations and strategic interests with the former Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)?

(4)  In the future, what sort of relationship should the EU have with countries of the shared neighbourhood in light of the recent Russian response? How should the EU structure its economic and trade relationship with the countries of the neighbourhood? What should be the nature of EU engagement in the shared neighbourhood and with the members of the Eurasian Economic Union?

EU Action

(5)  How clear have the EU and its member states been in their strategic intent in their business and economic relations with Russia? How could the EU and member states do more? Has the EU used its commercial relations strategically and effectively?

(6)  To what extent and in what sectors are the UK and other EU member states' economies dependent on Russia and vice versa? To what extent is Russia turning towards the East in its business and economic relationships and what implications does this have for its relationship with the EU?

(7)  How effective have Russian businesses been in wielding influence in EU member states, at the EU institutional level and through what means? What are the political and diplomatic implications of the depth of our economic relations?

(8)  Are these business interactions used for political and strategic purposes by the Russian state? What is the impact on the business environment and corporate governance in the EU as a result of doing business with Russia?

(9)  Could the EU do more to address the problem of corruption, rule of law and corporate governance within the commercial relationship between the EU and Russia and could it do more to improve standards of governance in corporate behaviour? How do EU regulations, and the business environment in member states, encourage a mutually beneficial trading relationship?

(10)  Does the EU take sufficient account of the 'Russian perspective' and of Russian sensibilities? Do the Russians take account of the EU perspective? What steps can the EU take to encourage the Russians to take more account of the EU perspective in their political calculations?

(11)  How can the EU design sanctions, if these should be required, which affect the Russian economy and the Russian elite while minimising damage to the EU economy?

(12)  Does the EU have a joined-up approach towards Russia, which couples political strategy with economic and business agreements? Is there a divergence between the approaches of member states and that of the EU? How can the EU and its member states build a consistent, coherent and strategic policy towards Russia? How can the EU ensure that its economic aims do not run counter to its political and strategic goals? What are the decision-making processes in the EU which might improve this?

Framework for Relations

(13)  What criteria should govern the relationship with Russia and within what sort of overarching structures? What is the appropriate framework to conduct our relations with Russia? How can the EU construct a relationship with Russia that is positive, mutually beneficial but also respects the EU's strategic purposes and its values?

(14)  What are the criteria for best practice in the conduct of those relationships? How can the EU uphold its values of corporate governance and good practice in its commercial relations with Russia?

(15)  What role can EU businesses play in promoting EU best practice and EU values in Russia?

July 2014

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