In its 2018 Interim Report the EU-Russia Expert Network on Foreign Policy called upon Russia and the EU to explore areas of economic cooperation, which do not violate sanctions on either side. Preserving and developing economic interaction in specific areas can help to avoid progressing isolation in a complicated political context. We want to focus on two areas which are relevant for both the EU and Russia: digital transformation and economic connectivity. Moreover, we intend to discuss mutual sanctions and specifically the impact of US sanctions on EU-Russia economic relations.
Digital transformation implies opportunities and challenges for both the EU and Russia. Brussels and Moscow are developing strategies to address the groundbreaking impact of technological change on governments, social systems and private businesses. They also have to deal with cyber security: in this area they find themselves on different sides of the fence more often than not. We want to explore the state of digital transformation in Russia and the EU (digitalization of public administration, IT infrastructure, digital technology and innovation, digital education, big data management) as well as both sides' political strategies in the field. How advanced are Russia and the EU in different areas of digital transformation? Where do interests converge, where do they conflict? Is there any space for cooperation, including in the area of digital governance, between the EU and Russia?
Economic connectivity has become a political priority in the OSCE in view of growing global interdependence, including in the digital sphere. Reducing barriers to economic exchange and promoting economic interaction is considered an instrument to reduce confrontation, build confidence, promote cooperation and generate synergies. The concept has gained more prominence in view of China's Belt and Road Initiative, which is already transforming economic interaction in Eurasia and Europe. The EU in 2018 adopted a Euro-Asia Connectivity Strategy, in which Russia is mentioned as a partner. Russia stated in its 2016 Foreign Policy Concept that the EU remains an important partner in trade and foreign policy. We want to analyze the EU's and Russia's approaches towards connectivity to identify areas where they overlap and conflict. Can the connectivity concept be used to foster constructive interaction between Russia and the EU?
Mutual sanctions have been an important feature in EU-Russia economic relations for the past five years. The sanctions policy of the Trump administration has made the context of EU sanctions and their impact on the Russian economy more volatile. We want to investigate the impact of US sanctions on the Russian economy and Russia-EU economic relations. This workshop will also provide important context analysis for the discussions on digital transformation and connectivity.