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EU cooperation with Russia dates back to early 1990s. Since then, EU provided important financial assistance to help Russia in its transition towards democracy and market economy. Today, Russia is strong enough to become a donor itself. The current cooperation is moving towards equal partnerships.
EU-Russia cooperation started in the early 1990s, under the TACIS programme (Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States). Since then, around €2.7 billion of assistance was provided to support a wide range of sectors.
In 2007, TACIS was replaced by a new funding instrument, the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). Bilateral cooperation between the EU and Russia has continued under ENPI, but the change from TACIS to ENPI has nevertheless brought some changes. There is no more National Indicative Programme for Russia. The two parties cooperate now more than before on a basis of co-financing and the projects focus on strategic priorities of the roadmaps to the four Common Spaces. In addition to bilateral cooperation programmes, Russia benefits from EU funded regional actions, such as Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, Northern Dimension and other relevant programmes.
A few examples of ongoing bilateral programmes:
- Partnership forModernisation: current "flagship" programme in EU-Russia bilateral cooperation launched in 2010. It supports activities related to EU-Russia trade facilitation, health and waste management, modernisation of the Russian legal and judicial system initiatives.
- Higher education: one of EU assistance priorities. Through programmes like Tempus, Erasmus Mundus or the European Studies Institute, EU supports university exchanges and development of higher education system in Russia at large.
- EU and Russia are also cooperating in other sectors such as: environment, minorities.
EU is also funding civil society initiatives in Russia through thematic budget lines, such as the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights Instrument (EIDHR) and Non-State Actors and Local Authorities (NSA/LA). Special programmes have also been funded in the past years for non-state actors in the Baltic Sea region, cultural initiatives etc.
Through EIDHR, EU supports the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum which is a common platform for cooperation and coordination of civil society organisations from Russia and the European Union. The Forum promotes regular contacts between Russian and EU's civil society and gives an opportunity to express views on: human rights, rule of law, environment, civic participation, democracy building and social issues.
- Cross-border cooperation (CBC): Russia is a key beneficiary of five CBC programmes co-funded by both the EU and the Russian Federation: Kolarctic, Karelia, South-East Finland-Russia, Estonia-Latvia-Russia and Lithuania-Poland-Russia. These programmes tackle economic and social development in border areas; common environmental, health and security problems; and encourage cross-border exchange.
- Northern Dimension and Baltic Seacooperation: also receive considerable funding from the EU. Environment and civil society cooperation are among the key areas of assistance.
For more details about the EU-Russia relations and cooperation programmes, please visit the website of the Delegation of the European Union to Russia: http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/russia/index_en.htm