This meeting kicked off a new series of events of
the EU-Russia Expert Network on Foreign Policy (EUREN). Building on the foundation and trust
that have grown over the last four years, EUREN will strive to further deepen the connections
between its members, facilitate cooperation within the network and generate relevant
interventions and ideas for the future of the EU-Russia relationship. Against the backdrop of
tense relations between the EU and Russia, the relevance of EUREN has only grown.
the first half of 2021, several crises emanated from three familiar trouble spots. First, there
was new controversy linked to Russia's domestic policy: The imprisonment of Alexei Navalny and
the increasing pressure on Russia's civil society led to new EU sanctions, which were answered
by Russia with counter-sanctions and the expulsion of EU diplomats during a Moscow visit by High
Representative Josep Borrell in February. Secondly, the confrontation between Prague and Moscow
in April served as a reminder of the political disruption that new allegations about Russian
secret service operations within the EU can trigger. Thirdly, the fate of EU-Russia relations
remains intrinsically linked to the unresolved crises in the common neighbourhood. This again
became clear during tensions linked to Russia's military build-up at Ukraine's borders as well
as the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration
has begun to reshape U.S. foreign policy, marking a clear contrast to the era of Donald Trump.
The change in Washington is impacting EU-Russia relations as well. Although Russian and EU
perspectives on the new U.S. policies differ, greater predictability should be in the interest
of both sides, and the new administration could also make some forms of EU-Russia selective
engagement easier, such as on JCPOA or climate change.