'The Saturday Club' is a group of experts united to discuss relationship between Russia and the EU in the energy sector. In particular, the round table “Russia-EU Relations in the Energy Sector: Practical Rebuilding” was held in the Analytical Center with their participation.
Dr. Kirsten Westphal from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs told that the key objective of the Saturday Club would be preventing further politization of economic relationship between Russia and countries of the European Union. First meetings were aimed at developing a common policy that was further set out in a memorandum. The document had a widespread public response, and this led to an idea to make the Club more large-scale and open, noted the expert.
“We cannot wait for the moment when all political problems are solved and only then initiate restoring mutual energy relations. Rather on the contrary, the energy sector can serve as a bridge to maintain and, ideally, to enhance political relations. When there is mutual interest in cooperation, it becomes much easier to build a political aspect,” noted Ms. Tatiana Mitrova, Head of the Russian and Global Oil and Gas Sector Unit, Institute for Energy Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Three large projects were developed following several meetings of the Saturday Club: a consulting council of the EU and Eurasia, pooling efforts in the energy education field and SmartCities program, according to the expert. “The idea to create the council means beginning to remove the most grievous barriers in the way of cooperation and investment,” highlighted Ms. Mitrova.
Dr. Petra Opitz, representative of DIW Econ, talked about SmartCities. “This is a comprehensive system that involves a lot of new technologies and ideas,” said the expert. “Using it, Russian and German companies will be able to share technologies and knowledge, and this information transfer channel can be developed on both sides.”
Summarizing the event experts noted co-operation prospects for Russia and the EU in the energy sector, particularly in gas markets. The co-operation on the basis of the Paris Agreement, in particular, substitution of high-emission kinds of fuel with gas, is one of the possibilities, together with the gas companies' team-work in the third-countries markets, e.g. India or African countries.