Russia and the eastern neighbourhood are both key foreign policy priority areas for the European Union. The EU faces increasing levels of interdependence with these regions in a multitude of spheres - from trade and energy flows, to the joint management of security challenges and migration.
The EU develops its policies in the region along two strands – a strategic partnership with Russia, and the European Neighbourhood Policy/Eastern Partnership policy in its relations with Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Russia is the biggest neighbour of the European Union - and one of its most important, but also challenging partners. The EU and Russia share not only the same neighbourhood, but also a large number of global and regional security challenges. Over the past 15 years, the EU and Russia have developed a deep and complex network of political institutions and diplomatic contacts. Currently the relationship is centred around issues concerning trade and energy cooperation, a security dialogue, and a process that aims at liberalising visas between Russia and the EU with a view to bolster tourism, trade and people to people contacts. However, the relationship is often constrained, or does not fulfil its potential due to divergences over Russian domestic political developments as well as over stances on international events - from the uprisings in the Middle East to the Eastern Partnership or secessionist conflicts in the post-Soviet space.
In the eastern neighbourhood, the cornerstones of the EU policy are the Association Agreements, which contain provisions on the establishment of deep and comprehensive free trade areas. However, several Eastern partners are under pressure not to advance too far in their relations with the EU and consider joining other post-soviet integration initiatives like the Eurasian Union. Other significant EU policy initiatives are related to on-going efforts to contribute to peace and stability in Moldova and the South Caucasus, liberalise visas, develop energy links or contribute to support for democratic processes and good-governance in selected Eastern Partnership states.