EU, Russia summit ends with progress on energy co-op, WTO accession



Leaders of the European Union and Russia have agreed to set up an energy early warning mechanism and to boost steel trade at the summit here while the EU also pledged full support for Russia 's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO).

At a press conference after the one-day meeting in the town of Mafra just outside Lisbon , Russian President Vladimir Putin also announced that he had proposed the EU send observers to monitor the Russian parliamentary elections in December.

On the occasion of the press conference, both sides signed an agreement on promoting trade of steel and certain steel products, and also a memorandum of understanding on strengthening drug control.

Jose Socrates, prime minister of Portugal , which holds the rotating EU presidency, told reporters that the EU fully supports Russia 's early accession into the WTO, saying Russian membership would be beneficial not only to Russia , the EU, but also the rest of the world.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that both sides have narrowed down their differences concerning Russia 's accession to the WTO, but cited difference over Russia 's policy of timber export duties.

He said such difference is "resolvable" with joint efforts from both sides.

Nevertheless, both sides fail to bridge difference over when to start negotiations on a new agreement to replace the soon-to-expire EU-Russian Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).

Earlier Friday, EU Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner said talks on the new deal, which expires in December this year, could start at the EU-Russia summit next spring.

She said that the possibilities of opening such negotiations could come only after the Russian parliamentary elections in December and presidential vote next March.