EU sanctions and Russia – New dynamics and implications on the Russian economy and EU businesses

kutsutilaisuus · Finnish Institute of International Affairs · 19.09.2019 09:15 - 12:15


In the framework of the research project “Development of EU’s Sanctions Policy: Political and economic implications for Finland”, the Finnish Institute of International Affairs organised a working session titled “EU sanctions and Russia – New dynamics and implications on the Russian economy and EU businesses”. The working session was part of the programme of the Informal Meeting of the Foreign Relations Counsellors (RELEX) organised in Helsinki on 18–20 September 2019.


The European Union (EU) has increasingly used restrictive measures within the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) in order to respond to challenges in its neighbourhoods and beyond. Since 1990s, the EU has moved away from comprehensive trade embargos towards targeted sanctions. The restrictive measures aim to position the EU in the wider geopolitical context, affect the behaviour of targeted regimes actors, and signal disapproval as well as contain further adverse actions.

Within the last decade, the EU has increasingly set up sanction regimes based on its own initiative, making the EU prominent sender of sanctions along the United Nations and the U.S. In particular, the EU sanctions against Russia signify a noteworthy qualitative change.  Since the Russian annexation of Crimea and de-stabilization of Eastern Ukraine in 2014, the EU does not shy away from imposing tougher sanctions against a neighbouring great power and close trading partner. EU sanctions against Russia have led to Russian counter actions, with notable implications for EU businesses.

Currently, the EU sanctions policy faces yet another turning point in a challenging international environment. The U.S. reinstated sanctions on Iran, while U.S. Congress prepares new restrictions on Russia. Sanctions policies on both sides of the Atlantic are increasingly out of step. After the UK’s likely withdrawal, the EU is set to lose one of the main initiators of EU sanctions as well as important resources for the design and monitoring of sanctions regimes. However, the need to fill any resulting vacuum left by Brexit also provides the opportunity to rethink EU decision-making on sanctions, its system of implementation and enforcement, and to develop the allocation of sanctions expertise and resources in the EU.

The aim of this working session is to address the new dynamics shaping the EU’s sanctions policy and discuss the implications of EU sanctions on the Russian economy and EU businesses. What are the key challenges facing the EU’s sanctions policy? Will these provide an opportunity to develop further EU decision-making and enforcement of sanctions? How have EU sanctions affected the Russian economy? Moreover, what are the key messages from the EU businesses on sanctions in general and EU restrictive measures in particular? 

Picture by Kati Temonen.


09.15    Opening remarks: Juha Jokela FIIA

09.30    Presentation by Clara Portela: The changing nature of EU sanctions

10.00    Discussion

10.30    Coffee break

11.00    Presentation by Laura Solanko, Bofit: Russian economy and EU sanctions

11.20    Petri Vuorio, EK: Future prospects of EU businesses 

11.40    Discussion

12.15    End of the working session


"The changing nature of EU sanctions"

Clara Portela

Senior Associate Analyst

Ms. Clara Portela is a Senior Associate Analyst at the EUISS, having previously served as faculty at the University of Valencia (Spain) and Singapore Management University (Singapore). Her research focuses on arms control and multilateral sanctions policies. She holds a PhD from the European University Institute in Florence and an MA from the Free University of Berlin, and she is the recipient of the THESEUS Award for Promising Research on European Integration. Clara Portela has been a Visiting Professor at the OSCE Academy in Bishkek, the College of Europe, and the University of Innsbruck. She is currently collaborating with FIIA in the research project “The Development of EU Sanctions Policy: Political and Economic Implications for Finland”.

"Russian economy and EU sanctions"

Laura Solanko

Senior Advisor

Ms. Laura Solanko is Senior Advisor at the Bank of Finland Institute for Economies in Transition (BOFIT), specializing at Russian economic developments. Solanko received her doctoral degree from the University of Helsinki in 2007, majoring in economics. Her PhD Thesis Essays on Russia’s Economic Transformation covered topics on fiscal federalism and regional economic development in Russia. She was the Editor of BOFIT Discussion Papers and responsible for BOFIT Visiting Researchers Programme for 2011–2015, and continues to regularly contribute to BOFIT Weekly Review on Russia. Her current research interests include Russian macro economy, financial markets and political economy as well as Russia-EU energy relations. Her research has been published in e.g. Journal of Banking and Finance, Public Choice, Review of International Economics and Russian Journal of Money and Banking.

"Future prospects of EU businesses"

Petri Vuorio


Mr. Petri Vuorio was appointed as Director (Trade Policy) of Confederation of Finnish Industries EK in May 2016. Prior to joining the Confederation of Finnish Industries Mr. Vuorio has worked as Corporate Banker at Svenska Handelsbanken, Swedbank and Nordea in Finland and Russia for almost 15 years. Mr. Vuorio’s areas of expertise cover Trade Policy, Emerging Markets (e.g. Russia, China, Iran), Arctic Policy, Development and Export Finance, Corporate Banking. He currently holds several positions of trust e.g. Chairman of Business Europe’s Russia Working Group, Secretary of China-Finland Committee for Innovative Business Cooperation, Member of the Prime Minister Office’s Arctic Advisory Board, Member of the Supervisory Board of Finnfund Ltd. (governmental development financier of Finland). Mr. Vuorio has also been Senior Partner at East Consulting Ltd. and supported number of Nordic companies in their emerging market business development. He has also acted as Member and Deputy Chairman of the Steering Committee of Association of European Businesses (AEB) N-W Russia in 2010-2014. Mr. Vuorio holds a degree of MSc Business and Economics from the University of Jyvaskyla, Finland. He speaks Finnish, English, Swedish, Russian and Estonian.


Juha Jokela


EU:n ulko- ja turvallisuuspolitiikka, Ison-Britannian EU-ero (Brexit), EU:n rooli globaalissa ja alueellisessa hallinnassa, Suomen EU-politiikka