DEAUVILLE, France (Reuters) - Europe and Russia should work toward a common economic, security and visa-free space by 2025 to boost ties between the two blocs, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Tuesday.
The European Union and Russia have been negotiating a draft cooperation accord since 2003 to create four “common spaces” — on the economy, freedom, security and justice — that would remove trade barriers and promote reforms and competitiveness.
“From my point of view, in 10-15 years the vision that we should have is a common economic EU-Russia space, end of visa requirements and a common security concept,” Sarkozy told a news conference after a two-day meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev and Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Russia and the European Union will hold a summit in Brussels in early December that will look specifically at how to speed up visa-free travel between the two areas.
Both France and Germany signaled in this week’s talks they wanted an agreement based on “values of democracy and the rule of law” that would allow free movement of people and goods.
“Everybody knows we have to cancel the visa regime and we understand we can’t do it straight away,” said Medevedev, speaking through an interpreter. “It’s a process and we will pursue our work.”
In the past, Moscow has accused the 27-member EU of dragging its feet in talks on scrapping visas and warned that the delay was already hurting relations with its biggest trading partner.
Reporting by John Irish; editing by Brian Love and Noah Barkin