A lack of unity has significantly limited the results of the European Union-Russia summit. An old dispute over paying to use Siberian airspace was settled, but a launch of negotiations for a new partnership agreement fizzled. It was vetoed beforehand by Poland because Russia will not allow meat imports from Polish territory.
In Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was appalled that the process on the new accord had not got off the ground; He said: “The EU still has no common position on the question; Russia confirms that it is ready to do what’s necessary to begin the talks.”
The summit produced an agreement that Russia will phase out charges European airlines pay to fly over Siberia. The fees which cost European carriers some 300 million euros per year will be reduced gradually, to nothing by the end of 2013.
As for the meat row, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso admitted something was not working. He said: “It is true there were some problems, it is true in our assessment, there is no reason to keep that ban, we consider, and I said that to President Putin, we consider this as an over-reaction.”
The Polish stand was an embarrassment for the EU, keen to move forward with Russia over energy and human rights dealings. Poland was the first new member state to use its veto to block talks with a third country.