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  Monday, December 9, 2019
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Russia and the European Union are expected to discuss the future form of relations Thursday
Russia and the European Union are expected to discuss the future form of relations Thursday and sign a deal on easier travel regulations as leaders gather for a summit on the Black Sea. With the current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Russia up for renewal, delegations led by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Russian leader Vladimir Putin will be looking to hammer out a new document to guide relations after 2007. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU commissioner for external affairs, said in the run-up to the meeting in the popular resort of Sochi that the EU wanted the new agreement to cover the four common spaces agreed at last year's Moscow summit in the economy; freedom, security and justice; external security; and science and culture. The commissioner said the new agreement should be comprehensive, reflecting Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization, which it wants to join this year. "It should embrace the common spaces, which did not exist when the existing agreement was signed, and it should reflect Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization - providing for greater trade and economic integration," she said. Officials are also expected to sign an agreement on visa facilitation and readmission that will ease the process of issuing visas of up to 90 days for several categories of Russian and EU citizens, including students, civil servants, culture workers, and journalists. Sergei Yastrzhembsky, President Vladimir Putin's pointman on relations with the EU, said Wednesday: "We hope that by the end of this year the agreements will be ratified, and that our European partners will also ratify them. From January 1, 2007, we want the agreements to be in force." The readmission document aims to ensure swift, efficient procedures for identifying, transporting, and repatriating individuals who have entered Russia or the EU illegally, or stayed beyond the term of their visas.
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