There is a lot more to EU-Russia relations than gesture politics. The high-profile summit meetings are often side-tracked by current events - as was demonstrated by the differences over the Ukraine elections at the November 25 meeting in The Hague.

A European Commission Communication on energy, due for adoption at next week's Commission meeting, offers clear evidence of some of the work going on in the background between the two sides.

The EU-Russia energy dialogue has been running since 2000 - in recognition not only of Russia's current role as the EU's most important supplier of fossil fuels and uranium, but also as a key factor in international markets, since it is geographically the closest alternative supplier to the Middle East.

The stakes are high, particularly at a time of rising energy prices. For the EU25, Russia is the main supplier of energy products: half of its gas imports, one quarter of oil imports, and one third of uranium imports. And EU dependence is inevitably going to rise. For Russia too, there are obvious advantages. The EU is its principal economic partner, and the natural destination for its energy exports.

The dialogue is an attempt at putting into action the EU strategy for the security of energy supply. And there is no doubt that it has started to put in place the...

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