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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kremlin Aide Predicts Tougher EU in 2010

The European Union will be a tougher but more predictable negotiating partner after the bloc’s Lisbon Treaty enters into force because it will be better able to speak with one voice, a senior Kremlin aide said.

The treaty, which comes into force on Dec. 1, will make the 27-member bloc more cohesive, President Dmitry Medvedev’s foreign policy adviser Sergei Prikhodko told reporters.

“In many events, discussions with the European Union will become more difficult because now they will be speaking with one voice,” Prikhodko said in comments released Friday.

The treaty streamlines the EU’s cumbersome decision-making processes and creates the posts of president and powerful foreign policy chief, jobs designed to give the union more clout in world affairs.

Russian diplomats complain that rotating EU chairs with different agendas and personalities have made it difficult to pursue stable relations.

But many analysts say Russia will find it harder to bypass Brussels institutions and curry favor with individual member states under the new structures.

“We need predictability. We don’t need rushing from one side to another, politicizing small technical issues,” Prikhodko said.

Medvedev is due to attend the last EU-Russia summit governed by the current rotating presidency system when he travels to Stockholm on Nov. 18.

Sweden holds the six-month presidency, a system set to be overshadowed by the creation of a new president and enhanced powers for the EU’s foreign policy chief under the reform treaty.

EU leaders are due to select the first appointees to these posts a day after the Stockholm talks.

Some European leaders believe the president should be a strong and experienced statesman who is already well-known outside Europe and can open doors in world capitals.

Others favor a low-profile leader skilled at building consensus and brokering deals, a view more popular among the member states, diplomats said.

Moscow has avoided expressing any preference, but will want office holders to focus on economic ties and not concentrate on human rights and democratic standards. Moscow objects to Western criticism of its internal affairs.

“The summit is happening at a turning point for Russia and the European Union, when ratification procedures of the Lisbon Treaty are being completed,” Prikhodko said. “This allows us to answer some basic questions concerning our dialogue.”

“But we view this very positively,” he added.

The new framework could aid work on a long-delayed partnership agreement between Russia and the European Union, Prikhodko said. It aims to cover all areas of trade and political contact between Moscow and Brussels. It has been stalled by disagreements over energy and trade and cannot be finalized until after Russia enters the World Trade Organization, EU officials said.