On 4 October 2005, Tony Blair held talks in London with Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of the EU-Russia summit. President Barroso of the European Commission attended representing the European Union. The group discussed the so-called 'four common spaces' between their respective countries - the economy, freedom and justice, external security, as well as culture and education. In education related matters, the two partners highlighted a few key issues. More specifically:
- Education funding - The Commission announced its allocation of € 20 million for healthcare, education and training in the region, which is in addition to the € 170 million of humanitarian aid channelled through ECHO (European Community's Humanitarian Aid Office).
- Progress in terms of science, research and education - The partners decided to go ahead with the European Institute in Moscow and aim to have the institute open for the school year 2006-07. The institution will train specialists in the field of economics and European law. It is believed that the training of young specialists will help strengthen the cooperative links between Russia and the EU. As a whole, the institute is seen as a symbolic and concrete example of a deep and strong relationship between the EU and Russia.
- Progress on visa agreements - The principle elements of an agreement on visa facilitation and readmission between Russia and the EU have been set. Greater circulation between the two lands will be developed in successive steps. The agreement on visa facilitation simplifies procedures for issuing short-stay and multiple-entry visas, while the agreement on readmission sets out procedures for the readmission of illegal residents from Russia, the EU as well as non-EU countries. In addition, the agreement reduces visa fees for both sides to €35.
The talks were “pragmatic and results-oriented” where leaders were looking forward to other opportunities to deepen the strategic and friendly cooperation. A tentative date for the next EU-Russia summit has been set for Spring 2006.
Joint press confernece at EU-Russia summit