The policy of the European Union (including of course Austria) and other international organisations (such as the OSCE and the Council of Europe) towards Russia and the CIS states is aimed at promoting stability in the region, fostering economic development and democratisation, and strengthening civil society and human rights. In addition some of the countries in this region require humanitarian and technical assistance which is provided by multilateral (mainly by the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument, Development Cooperation Instrument of the EU) and bilateral programmes.
A comprehensive dialogue at all levels has already been established with the Russian Federation (RF). The contractual basis for the relations between the European Union and the Russian Federation is the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement which entered into force in December 1997. This agreement has been concluded for an initial period of 10 years and is automatically renewed every year. At the EU-Russia Summit of May 2005 the road maps for the Four Common Spaces (the Common Economic Space; the Common Space of Freedom, Security and Justice; the Common Space of External Security; and the Common Space of Research, Education and Culture) were adopted. The implementation of these road maps fosters the cooperation between the Russian Federation, the EU Member States and the Union itself. In order to adapt the relations between the EU and Russia to the recent developments and the newest challenges, the EU Foreign Ministers adopted on 26 May 2008 a mandate for the negotiations on a new comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. At the EU-Russia Summit in June 2010, the EU and Russia agreed on a “Modernisation Partnership” which focuses on civil society, rule of law and the fight against corruption. At the summit in December 2010 the EU and Russia presented a first progress report on the Modernisation Partnership.
The EU concluded Action Plans with its eastern neighbours Ukraine and Moldova in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy in February 2005. In March 2007 the EU started negotiations on a new agreement with Ukraine which is intended to replace the former Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. The new agreement will foster co-operation. The core element of the new association agreement will be the creation of a Free Trade Area. The negotiations on a new agreement with Moldova to replace the former Partnership and Cooperation Agreement have been launched in January 2010. Both states are seeking rapprochement to European structures. Both have launched a number of important political, economic and social reforms under their respective Action Plans. The relations with Belarus – which in principle is also included in the European Neighbourhood Policy – entered into a new phase after the parliamentary elections at the end of September 2008 despite a continues lack of a functioning democratic tradition. The aim was to normalise the relationship between the EU and Belarus. After the presidential elections of December 2010 and the events which followed (e.g. the persecution of the opposition) the Foreign Ministers Council of the EU of 31 January 2011 adopted/reintroduced travel restrictions on a large number of belarus officials (among them President Lukashenko). An asset freeze was likewise agreed.
To support and further encourage the political, economic and social rapprochement of the Eastern Neighbours it has been decided to establish a so-called Eastern Partnership which includes the European Union as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The Eastern Partnership was formally founded in May 2009. Other EU initiatives that partially include the eastern European countries are the Black Sea Synergy and the Danube Strategy which is currently being elaborated.