Volume IX, 2-2010
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Eastern partnership: Win-win situation not only for businesses

Eastern partnership: Win-win situation not only for businesses

From left: Ivan Voleš, Member of EESC, Commissioner Štefan Füle, Milena Vicenová, Czech Permanent Representative to the EU and Kristian Vigenin, MEP, discuss the Eastern Partnership with stakeholders on 4th March, 2010.

The Eastern Partnership project (EaP), aiming to improve the political and economic relations of the countries of “strategic importance” - Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia with the EU, was inaugurated on 7th May 2009 in Prague. This ambitious project aims to develop good governance in these countries, promote human rights, enforce rule of law and strengthen their cooperation. Businesses and business organisations play a vital role in achieving the aims of EaP and should be more present in the whole project through participation in its four thematic platforms, civil society dialogue as well as implementation of particular projects. Dialogue, best practices sharing and absorption capacity of Eastern partner countries are the most important elements of the EaP. EU and EaP businesses can share their experience and contacts mainly via Civil Society Eastern Partnership Business Forum. Businesses from EaP countries expect improvement of regulatory environment and a better investment climate. Cooperation will also happen at parliamentary level the European Parliament is setting up the joint Parliamentary Assembly where 60 members of the European Parliament and 60 parliamentarians from EaP countries will gather to improve their dialogue and cooperation.

Eastern Partnership was set up last May during the Czech Presidency. Ten months later, business organisations, Members of European Parliament and representatives of Member States discussed the challenges of Eastern Partnership (EaP) for EU as well as Eastern partners businesses with European Commissioner responsible for Enlargement and European neighbourhood policy, Štefan FÜLE. “Companies on both sides should perceive the EaP as an opportunity for potential markets. It´s a win-win situation,” said Commissioner FÜLE. To achieve a win-win situation, we have to understand each other. “We have to learn about the expectations and requirements of both sides”, pointed out Milena VICENOVÁ, Czech Permanent Representative to the EU. Launch of the EaP and its evolution was followed with interest by the European Economic and Social Committee. Its members were involved in its “institutionalising” and have been participating in its thematic platforms. EESC members have also been active in the Civil Society Dialogue and interested in the possibility to set up an Eastern Partnership Business Forum. “Though, important components of the society dialogue are missing such as employers, employees and consumers ´ representatives. Whole civil society should be represented,” stressed Ivan VOLEŠ, Member of EESC and Head of Eastern Neighbourhood Contact Group. Businesses from Eastern partner countries expect improvement of regulatory environment and investment climate for SMEs. “We want the EaP to become a strong equal partnership beneficiary for both parts,” said Anna ZVOLIKEVYCH, Director of EU Ukrainian Business Council. Kristian VIGENIN MEP, chairman of Euronest Parliamentary Assembly and AFET Committee, added: “the European Parliament is setting up the joint Parliamentary Assembly where 60 members of European Parliament and 60 parliamentarians from EaP countries will gather to improve their dialogue and cooperation”.

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