As the EU and Russia hold their latest summit neither side can boast that they are in the best of health. But the summit is important for symbolic reasons - and there are several practical issues that they can address at the same time.
Russia in 2010 was as corrupt as Papua New Guinea, had the property rights of Kenya and was as competitive as Sri Lanka. As Putin readies himself to retake the presidency he must also work out how to deal with a country that is now firmly post-BRIC.
The atmosphere between the EU and Russia has improved remarkably over the last couple of years; but - ahead of this week's summit with Russia - the EU is struggling to turn good atmospherics into tangible progress in areas that really matter.
NATO leaders are meeting in Lisbon to approve a new strategic blueprint aimed at enhancing the security of Europe. But what about managing security within Europe? Who is responsible for that, and how should it be organised?