President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen,
First and foremost, I would like to thank the European Union leaders for the productive work we had at the anniversary, 25th, EU-Russia summit.
This meeting, the first after the signing of the Lisbon Treaty on reforming the European Union, was concrete, substantive, intense, and it proceeded in a friendly atmosphere. And of course the atmosphere of confidence that prevailed at this meeting helped us resolve a whole range of issues.
Relations with the EU are a very important element of our foreign policy. The main topic in today’s discussion was the reinforcement of the long-term strategic partnership as part of creating four common spaces we have identified back in 2005: the common economic space, the common space of freedom, security and justice, the common space of external security, and the common space of research and education.
But besides those four spaces, we, in Stockholm, agreed to engage in modernisation, and the Partnership for Modernisation initiative was launched. We hammered out a joint statement on the issue today. The goal of the initiative is to expand cooperation between Russia and the EU in such breakthrough fields as high technology, innovation, but not only in these areas (it also includes contacts in a whole range of other areas), and of course to join our forces in conducting cutting-edge research, creating high-technology facilities, working on energy efficiency, green growth, and technical regulation issues. On all these issues, I hope, we will be able to make progress as a result of the decisions, the discussions we had regarding them.
We also see the signing today between Russia and the EU of an agreement on the protection of classified information, which will encourage closer cooperation in the field of external security, as a crucial step. We have a successful example of such cooperation on the external security track; in Africa, with crisis management in Chad, in the Central African Republic, in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia, where, with our European partners, we are already conducting anti-piracy patrols.
We of course talked about such an important subject for us as energy security and cooperation in the energy sector. There are some good results here. We will talk about them, maybe, at the news conference. We are actively working to diversify oil and gas shipment routes. Big joint projects such as the Nord Stream are being successfully implemented. We very much hope that the South Stream project will also receive the status of trans-European energy network. Together we are working on security mechanisms in order to protect the legal rights of oil exporting countries, transit countries, and importing countries. No one should suffer, but we should all enjoy the same level of protection. We, in this context, talked about the need to put in place a new regulatory framework or to improve the existing international regulatory framework to serve energy cooperation.
We also exchanged views on such an issue as climate change. It is a complicated issue, but we are ready to deal with it. We hope that, in the end, we will be able to achieve a universal, comprehensive, and, very importantly, a binding agreement on this problem.
Another issue on which we exchanged views is making business and holiday trips for our citizens easier. We are modernising legislation. Recently I signed a law amending the laws on the status of foreign nationals in Russia in order to make it easier for foreign nationals, including EU citizens, to obtain a work permit. This work will continue.
But now, of course, we need to move toward our main goal; that is, the abolition of visas. The most important thing now is not to politicize this issue or dote on bubbles. We must face the truth, see if the entire EU is ready to deal with this problem. I would like to say just one thing: our country is ready to tackle this problem. We are ready to cooperate. It is of course easy for us; we are one country. The EU comprises 27 countries. But for the work to proceed more actively, we have handed to our European partners our draft agreement on the abolition of visas for Russian and European citizens. I hope that our European partners will study it, and we will move forward. In any case such a step would cement the strategic partnership between Russia and the European Union, but most importantly (and it is not even about the partnership), this would make life easier for millions of people living in the EU and in the Russian Federation.
Overcoming the crisis remains a topical issue. We discussed this issue quite at length with our partners yesterday, talked about the difficulties the EU is facing, about the quick and wise, in my opinion, steps our partners have taken to overcome the crisis and solve the complicated problems that have cropped up in some EU countries. We will continue to discuss these issues at the G20 summit scheduled to take place in Toronto, and we have already discussed the way we would collaborate in this area, I mean the early decisions of the G20, what we have and what we have not done.
We have a common view on what to do next. It is desirable that each G20 summit concludes with concrete decisions that all countries subsequently abide by. We don’t need declarations – we need consistent work to reform the global financial system. No one expects us to do it instantly, but we must move forward and implement the decisions made earlier.
Of course, we discussed international issues. Just over lunch we discussed the Middle East settlement, in particular, the situation that has emerged after the attack on humanitarian aid convoy heading for Gaza. A relevant declaration was adopted by foreign ministers. It completely correlates with what was done at the Security Council, the resolution of the Security Council that was adopted today condemning what has happened. A thorough investigation is needed, but in any case the death of people cannot be compensated and is absolutely unmotivated.
We, of course, discussed the Iranian nuclear program, the situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, issues related to the Cyprus settlement, and the situation in a number of European regions. And of course I cannot but touch on the issue of signing an agreement on European security, observing the legally binding principle of indivisible security. This dialogue with our partners has been going on for quite some time. We intend to continue interacting with the EU in the search for a solution to this problem. This does not mean that all our approaches coincide. There are issues on which our positions diverge. But that, on the other hand, does not prevent us from finding opportunities for compromise and solutions to the issues on which our approaches are close or coincide.
To end my opening remarks, I would like to say that the summit took place, in my opinion, in a very benevolent, business-like atmosphere. We worked for the first time in such a composition. I would once again like to welcome President Van Rompuy, as head of the European Union and, of course, our traditional partner, President of the European Commission Mr Barroso. We already know how to work together, we have good business relations. I hope that the practical results of this work will serve to strengthen the partnership between Russia and the European Union.
And lastly, I would like to express our great appreciation to the residents of Rostov-on-Don, where we held this summit. They provided an excellent weather, and nature did not let us down — yesterday we had the opportunity to go sightseeing. But most importantly, this has contributed to the atmosphere that prevailed at this summit. Thank you very much for welcoming us in Rostov-on-Don.
President of the Council of Europe Herman Van Rompuy: Dobry Den’.
I would like to thank you, Mr President, for hosting this summit in the historical city of Rostov-on-Don today, on this beautiful spring afternoon. We have had an excellent summit with open, friendly, and fruitful discussions.
Before I make some comments, I would like, as a Belgian, not in the first place as a European, I’d like to congratulate the President with the victory of Denis Kozhukhin in the world-famous Queen Elizabeth contest for piano in Brussels last Saturday. It shows the close cultural links inside Europe between Russia and the countries of the European Union.
I would like to make the following points. First, this summit has been held in a defining time, both for the European Union and for Russia. In the Union, we have the new treaty and new institutional actors. Lady Ashton and myself are the products of the Treaty of Lisbon. We are manoeuvring in the Union our way through the economic and financial crisis with the aim of coming out stronger than before. Our response to the recent public debt crisis has shown the world that the European Union is capable of acting decisively, and we will continue to do so. The Union has to work hard on financial consolidation and competitiveness, and on strengthening our economic structures and growth in the framework of the EU 2020 economic strategy. This is vital for our position on the world stage.
Russia is also at a crossroads. President Medvedev’s ambition to base Russia’s modernisation in the 21st century on democratic values, by building a modern, diversified, and dynamic economy, and by encouraging the active involvement of civil society, is a significant development for Russia. We want to be Russia’s partner in modernisation. This is why I’m glad that we are launching the partnership for modernisation and that we have agreed on its scope and priorities. I believe this will promote reform and give renewed momentum to our relationship, develop our cooperation on trade, economy, and energy security. It will also contribute to the global economic recovery.
However, for the partnership to bear fruit, the Russian modernisation needs to become a reality, and it needs to follow a certain path and to avoid protectionism. In the light of this, I welcome the renewed momentum in Russia to join the World Trade Organisation. In this context, we also talked about the long-term goal of visa-free travel. In my view, contacts between Russian and European business, students, professors, and others would enormously strengthen the forces of modernisation. We therefore remain committed to making concrete progress as soon as possible on the ground.
Second, on the G20 summit in Toronto, I am happy to see that there is a broad consensus with Russia on a lot of issues. However, as regards the reforms on the financial system in particular, this is a top priority for the EU, and we as the EU expect a summit in Toronto to discuss ways to reduce systemic risk and to agree on the principle that the financial institutions should contribute to the costs of any future financial crisis. In Toronto, we have to achieve concrete results, as the President said. We need the same stepwise approach in the climate conference in Cancun in December.
My third remark. We have also signed an agreement on protection of classified information, which represents a significant step forward in our relations. This will facilitate cooperation in a wide range of areas, including crisis management and justice and home affairs.
Fourth, we also reconfirmed our interest to continue to explore possibilities for cooperation in the field of crisis management, justice and home affairs. We want to build further on our successful cooperation in Chad and in the fight against piracy on the coast of Somalia.
Fifth, on human rights. I expressed our appreciation for recent legislative developments in Russia: the ratification of Protocol 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the expansion of jury trials nationwide, and the confirmation of the moratorium on the death penalty. However, the situation for human rights defenders and journalists in Russia is of great concern to the European public at large. Another matter of concern which I noted was shared by the President is the climate of impunity, in particular in Chechnya and other areas of the North Caucasus.
Sixth, we had the chance to discuss a number of international issues. We also welcome the new START agreement on reductions of nuclear weapons with the United States and we congratulate the President on the results.
On Iran, the European Union and Russia fully agree: the nuclear programme of Iran remains a source of concern. The purpose of the restrictive measures is to bring Iran back to the negotiating table, and we are very happy that the Russian Federation has played a constructive role in the shaping of the draft United Nations Security Council resolution on Iran.
We also discussed yesterday’s tragic incident in the Middle East and issued a joint statement by High Representative Ashton and Foreign Minister Lavrov. This statement enjoys my full support, also on behalf of the European Union. We regret the loss of lives during the Israeli military operation against the flotilla sailing to Gaza. We demand a full and impartial inquiry and call for an immediate opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods, and people to and from Gaza.
Finally, the European Union and Russia share a common interest in improving the security, stability, and prosperity in our common neighbourhoods. History and geography have made us different, but also neighbours. We are dependent on each other and on the well-being of our neighbours. This has become a common spirit of our continent. In this respect, we would like to see a more constructive role played by Russia, including implementation of all its earlier commitments, especially with regard to Georgia.
To conclude, Russia is a real strategic partner to the European Union. With you, we have a most intensive and dynamic dialogue. With Russia, we do not need a reset. We want a fast-forward.
Spasibo. Thank you.
President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso: Thank you. First of all, I’d like to thank our Russian hosts for receiving us in Rostov, and I would like to especially thank Mr Medvedev for the very open, friendly, and productive talks we had today. The strategic partnership between Russia and the European Union has again proven its value. I believe that in our fast-changing world, people and economies are ever more connected and interdependent. Our security, our prosperity are shared to a large degree, so it makes sense to have a deeper relationship between Russia and the European Union, and this summit, the 25th summit between Russia and the European Union, was indeed a very productive one.
I will not repeat what was already said, let me just highlight the launching of this Partnership for Modernisation. We have conceived this common vision with President Medvedev at our last summit in Stockholm, and today we have launched it, and we have discussed also which concrete priorities we’ll put there. It will be, of course, a partnership in the global framework of our strategic relationship, but we want to deliver concrete results in matters that are very important for the economy, for our societies. Of course the economy and the society are linked. Modernisation is not just about the economy, it’s also about the society, the rule of law, and overall, the trends in a society in terms of adhering to some important values. But it is also about the economy. It is about regulatory convergence, setting some common standards so that we make life easier for business and for consumers, cooperating in some fields.
We have discussed cooperation in terms of energy, energy security, energy efficiency. This is a very important point of common European and Russian interest. And it is also the reason why the European Union is a very strong supporter of accession of Russia to the WTO. We believe it is very important to Russia, but also very important to the WTO and to the global community to have a country – one of the most important economies in the world – member of the WTO.
We have always backed Russia’s bid strongly, and we are happy that we see now an increased momentum. We hope that the necessary steps will be taken, because truly modern economies are those that are open and shaped by global rules of the game, not the ones that practices protectionist measures.
Joining the WTO will also be an important stepping stone toward deeper bilateral trade and investment relations. Just look at a few facts. European Union is the top investor in Russia with a foreign direct investment of 25 billion euros. Russia is our third biggest trade partner with an annual volume of 180 billion euros. And we are closely interlinked in many areas, namely the area of energy.
So, I really believe that this summit, covering such wide issues from visa facilitation with the aim of visa-free travel to foreign policy issues, but also with a very good and deep discussion on economic situation in Europe and in Russia, and our, to a large extent, convergent agendas for the G20 in Toronto. I think this summit was indeed a very successful one. Once again, I want to thank President Medvedev for Russia’s hospitality and the city and region of Rostov for what was a very important moment for this relationship between Russia and the European Union.
Question: I have a question for the Russian president: just before the summit, Russian officials said, and you just repeated, that Russia would be ready to abolish reciprocal visa requirements with the European Union straight away, but from Brussels we are hearing that this is not going to happen anytime soon. I would like to know what is stopping visa-free travel from going ahead? What are the obstacles in the way and how can they be dealt with?
I have a second question regarding the future. You said that Russia’s accession to the WTO was discussed at the summit. Did your discussions reach an understanding on when this might actually happen? It would be interesting to hear the European leaders’ responses to these questions too.
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. I do not know if my colleagues will comment or not, but I will certainly share my thoughts since you addressed your first question to me.
On the subject of visas, or their abolition, to be more precise, and what obstacles are in the way, there are no obstacles in the way for us and we are ready to abolish them tomorrow. We think that our society is entirely prepared to receive Europeans without visas and manage all of the various aspects associated with such travel. We have the necessary technical procedures in place and are currently reorganising the system, and we also have a series of agreements that we are continuing to develop, including agreements concerning the treatment and subsequent deportation of those who violate immigration laws. There is still some work to do in this area, it is true.
But I realise, of course, that our partners in the European Union are in a somewhat different situation. The EU comprises 27 different countries, each of which has its own views on the visa issue, including on the question of abolishing visas for the Russian Federation. This issue concerns not only Russia, because there are other countries with which the EU is also working towards eventual abolition of visas. Some of these countries, as I understand the situation, are closer to this goal than Russia. I think that the sooner the EU member states reach a consensus on this issue the better. We realise this is a complex issue for our European partners and we understand the need to perhaps clarify this or that position. The different EU member states have different views. I think these views in many respects owe more to our history than to the real situation today, because the way I see it, abolishing visa requirements would not pose any threat from a security point of view.
But countries have their own ideas about how to go about this, with which countries, and how rapidly. The different countries in the EU have different views on these matters. We are not letting this matter stress us because we consider it the EU’s internal matter to organize this work. But I would nonetheless like to say to our partners that if any steps are required on our side we are ready to work in bilateral fashion.
Finally, to facilitate this work and to at least start shaping the outlines of an agreement, I handed a draft agreement on abolishing reciprocal visa requirements between Russia and the EU to our partners during this summit. Let this become the first stone in the foundations of the decision on abolishing visas between us.
So, let’s continue our work. I am sure that this will be in the interests of millions of Europeans.
Now, on the WTO, we spoke about this yesterday during our informal discussions and we talked about it again today. The situation is quite straightforward and I think that my colleague, Mr Barroso, put it very well just now when he said that Russia needs the WTO, but the WTO also needs Russia, because the problems that our partners encounter, including our partners in Europe, and the rough edges that we discuss, the complaints sometimes made in Russia’s address, including on protectionism, are in large part related to the fact that we are operating under different rules. If Russia were in the WTO we would have to follow a certain set of rules whether we want to or not. But at the moment this is not the case.
As for our goal of joining this organisation, I have said on many occasions that our desire to join the WTO has not changed at all, despite the fact that we are also building a full-fledged customs union and a common economic space with Kazakhstan and Belarus. Our desire remains unchanged because we support the idea of joining the WTO and think this is essential for our country to be able to develop as it should within the global economic space. Furthermore, our integration projects with Kazakhstan and Belarus change nothing with respect to our accession to the WTO because we agreed with our partners that we will join the organisation together if we can, or separately if it turns out we are at different stages in the accession negotiations, and this is the case today. I am often asked about this issue, but in reality everything is quite simple and nothing has changed in our objectives.
Finally, who does the decision depend on today? The decision depends on the countries that still have to finalize their position on this issue. We talked about how to achieve this yesterday. We are still conducting complex negotiations with our American partners on this subject, but I think that it is time for everyone, including our American partners, to come clear on the issue: WTO membership is not a ‘carrot’ offered to us in return for good behaviour, but is quite simply a necessity in order to make Russia a full-fledged and integral player in global economic life.
I could but will not name a number of countries that have already joined the WTO but, in terms of their involvement in global economic life and the degree of modernity of their trade rules are decades behind Russia. I will say only that it looks a little strange that Russia is the only country in the G20 not yet in the WTO. Does anyone gain from this situation?
I therefore hope that this summit has helped to consolidate our positions (on this issue we have practically no differences with our European partners), and I hope that the remaining difficulties will be resolved and we will soon be able to join the WTO.
Question: A question to President Van Rompuy: on the issue of the flotilla bound for Gaza. I would like to know what your personal reaction is. And also, there has been a lot of condemnation around the world about the situation, do you think this will change something in the future in Israel’s reaction.
The second question is about human rights. You said that you discussed the human rights situation. I would like to know, in detail, which points did you discuss about the human rights situation in Russia – just in general, or did you mention Caucasus opposition, or anything else? Thanks.
Herman Van Rompuy (as transcribed): First, on the Middle East, I would like to express again my shock and grave concern about the tragic events that took place yesterday with the so-called freedom flotilla sailing to Gaza. The loss of life is inexplicable. I would like to extend my sincere condolences to the families of the victims. Today, we have a joint statement by High Representative Ashton and Foreign Minister Lavrov. I lend, as I said, my full support behind this statement also on behalf of the European Union. We regret the loss of life, condemn the use of violence, and demand an immediate full and impartial investigation. I follow the development of the situation with great attention. Above all, I appeal for a durable solution to be found to the situation in Gaza. I would also like to recall yesterday’s statement and point out that the continued policy of closure is unacceptable and counterproductive.
And finally, I would like to underline that peace in the Middle East must remain our ultimate goal. It is of particular importance, although the situation is more tense, that recently launched proximity talks continue.
On human rights, I have nothing to add on what I just said in my introductory remarks. I made the same remarks in the positive sense with positive evaluations and in the negative sense, I made the same remarks inside the meeting as in this press conference. I have nothing to add.
Question: First of all, a question for the President of the European Commission, Mr Barroso. Yesterday you talked about the euro crisis and possible steps for stricter financial market regulation ahead of the G20 summit. Have you managed to develop a common joint strategy with regard to that G20 summit?
And in addition, a question for President Medvedev. What can Russia do to help, to stabilise the international financial system?
Jose Manuel Barroso: Yesterday evening, in fact, we had a very informal and open discussion about the economic situation in Europe, and I’d like to highlight this point: I think it’s important – the summits between the European Union and Russia are important because of the results, because of the documents that we sign, but I think it is also important between leaders to discuss very frankly, completely openly, what are the problems that we have.
And it was in that spirit that we made an analysis of the difficulties in euro area, the debt crisis in euro area. President Medvedev also informed us of the way the Russian Federation was following in the situation – in fact, the confidence of Russia in the future of the euro. We have no doubts about the future of the euro. The euro is one of the most stable currencies of the world – in fact, the second currency today in the world. And the European leaders stated in an unequivocal manner their full commitment to do whatever is necessary to guarantee the stability of euro, and that has been achieved, in fact.
And so we have discussed these matters in a very deep and open way. And one of the points we discussed was precisely what can we do together in global terms to increase growth. The potential of growth was very much affected by the financial crisis that started some time ago. Part of the problems we are having now in the euro area, some are structural, but part at least was aggravated by the financial crisis and by what was the need to respond to that financial crisis. So it is important that we come back to growth and sustainable growth globally. This should be the main task of the G20 process. The G20 process was launched after the financial crisis at the heads of state and heads of government level. And we had decided at that time – it was in Washington and then in London and Pittsburgh – to come with some new methods of regulation and supervision, to avoid repetition of that kind of financial crisis, but also to foster growth in a sustainable manner.
And I am pleased to say that the European Union and Russia worked very closely together in G20 issues. In fact our sherpas are cooperating very closely. And broadly speaking, I can say there is a convergence of views about the need to increase, in a reasonable manner, financial regulation and supervision to define a level playing field, to find protections, and also to address problems of imbalances globally, and also the need to take into consideration different situations, of course, to prepare the exit of the crisis.
This was what we discussed yesterday. We have given some information about some measures we are taking in the European Union and in the euro area more specifically, and also about our commitment to the G20 process. We would like to keep the momentum. We would not like to see now – for things to, let’s say, come back to business as usual. No, we think we should complete the work started in terms of financial regulation and financial supervision. We are pragmatic. We understand very well that it’s not going to be the end of all our tasks now in Toronto. But we would like to see some real progress in Toronto and then in Seoul during this year. And we have reaffirmed our full commitment – not only our full commitment to the G20 process, but the understanding of working together, Russia and the European Union, in that framework as well.
Dmitry Medvedev: I will continue on the issue of what Russia can do to help stabilise the global financial system and the markets in general. I know that the efforts of one country alone will not produce results. We realised this when faced with the crisis in 2008. No matter how hard we tried, not one country, not even the United States of America, could solve this problem for everyone. It just did not work. So, we decided to work together as the G20 and now we are about to hold our fourth summit. We already met in Washington, London and Pittsburgh, and now we will meet in Canada, in Toronto. What can we do to bring about stabilisation? We need to work together, work hard on practical tasks and not whip up hysteria over the problems that arise in different parts of the world, including the problems that have arisen now in Europe. We need to try to help our partners and not make sharp statements that would only rock the boat of our economy and the EU’s economy even further. This is also something very important.
In passing, I want to say that the EU and its leaders deserve full praise for the swiftness with which they decided to accord money to help Greece resolve its problems and acted to address financial stability in general. Rapid decision-making in such cases is crucial for how the situation will develop further. Either we manage to nip the problem in the bud, or we end up having to manage the consequences for who knows how long afterwards, perhaps even decades. The swift and synchronised manner in which these decisions were made, despite some internal differences perhaps, show that the institutional system established by the Lisbon Treaty really does work effectively.
This is good for us too. We are not part of the EU, but we depend on the situation with the main reserve currencies. We are watching to see how the situation with the dollar develops, and we are watching the euro’s movements too. I remind you that we keep around 40 percent of our foreign currency reserves in euros. We have substantial reserves, and so we think that in this situation the best thing we can do is to help our partners, put together a joint strategy, including, in this case, a strategy for exiting the crisis, and work on the tasks at hand. We have enough such tasks to keep us busy. They include issues concerning audits, the question of ratings agencies, reaching a final settlement on distributing the quotas within the IMF and World Bank and cementing the changes in these organisations’ management systems, and quite simply issues regarding our participation in financing economic programmes. I remind you that Russia, like the EU and individual European Union members, takes part in IMF programmes and takes on considerable financial commitments under these programmes. So, if we all act responsibly towards our commitments we will succeed in resolving the problems currently facing the European and global economies.
Question: My question is for the Russian President and the European Union President. At the last Russia-EU summit in Stockholm you announced the creation of the Partnership for Modernisation. Then you talked about creating a programme, then about possibly signing a memorandum, and today, you signed a joint statement saying that you will draft a collaboration plan. So, after all that, what is this Partnership for Modernisation actually about? What specific shape will it take, and when will we actually see it?
Dmitry Medvedev: The Partnership for Modernisation is a new direction in our cooperation with the EU. As for when you will see the fruits of this cooperation – you can already see them now. We are working together on energy efficiency, on the ‘green’ economy, on resolving with the EU’s help all kinds of problems linked to insufficiencies in Russia’s technical regulations.
We have a whole number of European companies working in Russia, working on energy efficiency and helping Russia to make progress in this area, because we still have a very energy-intensive economy and we need to cut costs and reduce consumption. The Europeans have good experience in this area. We have decided to base our internal technical regulations not only on our internal rules but also on EU legislation. We will directly implement technical regulation legislation. If this is not a partnership then what is it? This is a partnership. But of course, we must not stop here. We must keep going and outline our next steps. Today we talked about working on satellite communications and navigation. I am referring here to the relevant joint programmes between GLONASS and Galileo. We talked about continuing our cooperation on technical regulations, which is a very important area for Russia, on energy efficiency, which I mentioned, and on a number of other proposals that we discussed back in Stockholm.
Today we adopted a statement on this partnership. Today, we do indeed need to draft our work plan, but the main outlines of what we need to do, the main components of our future work are already clear, and we are in effect already working on these things today. The main thing now, therefore, is to coordinate this work and ensure it goes ahead according to plan. Our partners think that this work could be extended to cover some other areas as well. Let’s wait and see. Perhaps we will include some other fields too. The main thing is to obtain a positive effect and get practical results. I hope that today’s decision, today’s statement will help in this.
I think there is no need to prove just what relevance this subject has for Russia today. I was happy to hear what President Van Rompuy said yesterday about the European Union also needing modernisation, in different areas, it is true. This is something we all need to work on. This Partnership for Modernisation will benefit everyone taking part.