Russia has agreed to lift a ban on vegetable imports from the European Union if the EU provides safety guarantees. A row over this was cleared up at a Russia-EU summit, held in Nizhny Novgorod. Moscow imposed the ban because of the deadly outbreak of E.coli in Europe.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said: “Our teams have agreed that the ban of vegetables from the European Union will be lifted. A system of certification of vegetable safety by the European Commission will be put in place without any delay and details of the certification will be finalised as soon as possible between the Federation of Russia and the European Commission’s services.”
The EU, which exported about 600 million euros worth of vegetables to Russia last year, had protested to Moscow and said such a broad ban was not justified by science.
EU officials have also said the ban broke World Trade Organisation rules. Moscow is trying to join the WTO.
Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said he regretted talks were dragging on but that there was a high chance of meeting this goal: “I called upon our partners in the EU to finish the negotiations literally within a month, to get to signing the documents on Russia’s WTO accession by the end of the year.”
The European Commission and Council presidents each said they had raised concerns about Russia’s record on human rights, including the poor state of the rule of law, and called for a level playing field for foreign businesses.