European Council President in office Jean Claude Juncker and Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will sign an ambitious accord with President Vladimir Putin. This will open up four common spaces, economic, justice and security, external security and culture and research. The strategic partnership has tension running through it;
The EU’s border with Russia has lengthened since enlargement brought it ten new members, among them the Baltic states and Poland. Russia has refused to atone for illegal occupation during Soviet rule.
Other hurdles still to get over include a system of free movement and the eventual getting rid of visas. Europe says this will depend on Russia agreeing to readmit illegal migrants — not only Russians but others who cross Russia to get to EU territory.
The external security space will mean Russia accepts EU dialogue over conflicts such as in Trans-Dnestria and South Ossetia. But Chechnya is not on the list. The EU is hoping that free elections there by this autumn will lead the Chechens to political dialogue with Russia.