On June 20, 2019, the Association of European Businesses, Schneider Electric, and SCHNEIDER GROUP held a round table meeting with 25 French business representatives and diplomats to discuss the further development of the Initiative for a Common Economic Space from Lisbon to Vladivostok.
The initiative was founded in 2015 and is supported by more than 60 international corporations, business chambers, and mid-size companies from East and West. The Initiative aims to accelerate trade relations between the European Union (EU) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) with an envisaged free trade agreement between the institutions.
The main goal of the round table discussion in Paris was to inform potential supporters from France about the possibility to join and to discuss a common economic space from a French business perspective.
Schneider Electric, one of the supporting companies of the Initiative, held the round table at their headquarters in Rueil-Malmaison, close to Paris. Johan Vanderplaetse, Vice President Chairman of the Board, Association of European Businesses (AEB) and Schneider Electric Senior Vice-President, Zone President Russia/CIS gave the opening speech. He was joined by Leonid Mukhamedov, Chief Strategy Officer of Schneider Electric.
Ulf Schneider, Co-Chairman of the Initiative and CEO of SCHNEIDER GROUP, gave an overview of current developments in the EU and EAEU and presented the Initiative. The keynote speaker was Mrs. Geraldine Lemble, Deputy CEO of MEDEF International in Paris. MEDEF is the largest employer federation in France, with more than 750,000 member firms.
The importance of continuous, concrete, and constant dialogue was underlined as global threads such as climate change raise tensions and lead to polarization within societies.
During discussions, the business representatives and diplomats pointed out key factors for the future engagement of French businesses under the umbrella of the Initiative Lisbon-Vladivostok:
– France can take the lead on the EU level to promote the vision of a common economic space
– The EU institutions and associations should be involved into the further Lisbon-Vladivostok activities more intensely
– The issue of restrictive visa regimes was seen as equally problematic from a French perspective. Working on improvements will remain one of the focuses of the Initiative
The event was a successful start to further steps with France to become a leading power of the Initiative.