Russia pushes aggressive energy agenda at EU summit

Russia pushes aggressive energy agenda at EU summit

Russia was planning an aggressive push for greater access to European Union energy markets in a summit Thursday with top-level officials from Brussels, DPA reported.

President Dmitry Medvedev was leading the Russian delegation to the two-day conference in the western city of Nizhny Novgorod.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso were among those attending the summit. The event "will build on the good results achieved at last year's EU-Russia summits," the EU said in a statement.

Russian officials have outlined an ambitious agenda for the conference, including an increase in deliveries of Russian gas to the EU and better access by Russian nuclear energy companies to EU markets.

Sergei Prikhodko, a senior adviser to Medvedev, said that despite an EU commitment to free and open trade with Russia, Russian energy companies face real barriers in buying capacity for European energy distribution.

Euroatom, the European Atomic Energy Community, is another sore point, Prikhodko told the Interfax news agency, because it discourages the use of Russian-produced nuclear fuel. Also a problem are EU regulations that hinder the construction of oil and gas pipelines from Russia to Europe, he said.

Other issues on Thursday's agenda, according to Russian media, are EU visa policy, Russia's ban on EU vegetable imports after the recent E coli outbreak, and Russia's bid for membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The head of the EU delegation to Moscow, Fernando Valenzuela, said on Sunday that Russia's blanket ban on EU vegetables contradicted WTO rules and threatened to distract the summit from more important issues.

Some 127 billion dollars' worth of European goods and services were imported to Russia in 2010, while Russia exports to the EU were worth 226 billion during the same period.

Russia is the EU's third-largest trading partner and its biggest energy supplier. The EU is by far Russia's largest export market, according to EU data.

Russia-EU summits take place every six months, alternating between Brussels and a Russian city.

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