Events overview

A course for harmonization

January 18, 2022: The annual meeting of the members of the economic Initiative “Lisbon-Vladivostok” took place online and onsite in Moscow.

Around 50 top executives from the Initiative’s member companies met in person at the conference hall of consulting company SCHNEIDER GROUP, whose President & Founder, Ulf Schneider, is the chairman of the Initiative. The important role of the Initiative was evidenced by the presence of former Russian Ambassador to Germany Vladimir Grinin and former Minister-Counsellor of the Russian Embassy in Germany Vladimir Polenov. Some 70 other participants and interested parties joined the meeting in an online format. In the long term, the Initiative aims to create a free trade zone and a visa-free regime. Task Forces from among the Initiative’s members have been working in these areas for a long time. The necessary documentation, requirements and solution proposals have been submitted to the relevant EU and EAEU commissions and authorised representatives: for harmonisation of customs / transport, certification, pharmaceutical market, European Green Deal, taxation / VAT, as well as visa liberalisation. Ulf Schneider began the board’s report by reminding of the Initiative’s particular relevance. He pointed to the importance of the Initiative’s communication capabilities in light of the simmering conflict between NATO and Russia, as well as China’s great influence on international standardisation, which the EU and the EAEU can effectively counter. At the event 4 companies signed a joint memorandum: AEB (Association of European Business in Russia), the Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Spain, French logistics company FM Logistic and the food company SOLINA headquartered in France. The event ended with the discussion between Matthias Fischer, Director of Economics and Science at the German Embassy in Moscow, and Matthias Schepp, Chairman of the Board of the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce (AHK Russland).

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Lisbon-Vladivostok initiative: breakthrough at the Eurasian Economic Commission

October 25, 2021: The Initiative continues to strengthen its working relationships with the Eurasian Economic Commission.

The Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative continues to gain momentum. At a high-profile meeting on invitation of the Minister-in-Charge of Economy and Financial Policy of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), the Kazakhs Ruslan Beketaev, to the EEC’s premises in Moscow, three board members of the Initiative, led by their Chairman Ulf Schneider, owner of the SCHNEIDER GROUP and the OWC-Publishers for Foreign Trade, were given the opportunity to present the ambitious project with political radiance. The presentation of the results of the task forces on the specific core requirements Visa Liberalization, Certification, Green Deal, Pharma Market, Customs / Transport and Tax / VAT met with particular interest. Minister Beketaev himself suggested another urgent subject – the harmonization of the financial and capital markets of both unions. The intensive and coherent exchange of ideas gives hope – the continuation of the talks in Brussels was spontaneously agreed.

New steps in building a Common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok

October 21, 2021: Three major international companies have became members of the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative.

The German-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted an event entitled “EEC 2025 – Transformation and Prospects”. An important part of the event was the signing of memoranda with the new members of the Initiative from Lisbon to Vladivostok: international provider of logistic services DB Schenker, large pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories and fiberglass manufacturer BauTex.
Matthias Schepp, Chairman of the Board, German-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Member of the Board of Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative spoke in favour of strengthening the dialogue between the EEU and the EU: “We need to pay attention that protectionism is growing, and it is important for business to have an open dialogue and open borders. This is what raises the welfare of citizens, which is very crucial.
Ulf Schneider, Chairman of the Board of the Initiative also highlighted the importance of the Сommon Economic Space and shared the key results of this year’s initiative: six working groups have brought out concrete proposals for discussion between members of the EU and the EAEU, as the harmonisation of norms and standards is what drives us forward and helps work more successfully.

Lisbon-Vladivostok welcomes the new member of the Initiative

September 8, 2021: Another milestone towards the development of a common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok.

Initiative for a Common Economic Space from Lisbon to Vladivostok is pleased to welcome a new member from Italy, LODI Export, association that supports the expansion of small and medium-sized enterprises into foreign markets. LODI Export includes more than 3. 000 people from various companies that aimed at increasing their presence on markets all over the world. Ulf Schneider, Chairman of the Board, Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative, President & Founder of SCHNEIDER GROUP based in Moscow, discussed with the members of the association in more detailed way advantages of creation of a common economic space. The signing ceremony took place in a hybrid format during the annual meeting of LODI Export members.

The Initiative keeps growing

June 28, 2021: Another significant milestone in the speeding-up development of the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative for a Common Economic Space across two continents: three Portuguese associations signed memorandum of the Initiative.

In a festive atmosphere three new Portuguese associations signed their active participation in the Initiative: the Portuguese Industrial Association (AIP), represented by Jorge Pais, Vice Presi-dent, AIP CCI, Bruno Valverde Cota as President of Chamber of Commerce and Industry Luso-Russian and Paulo Vaz as Member of the Administration Board of Portuguese Business Asso-ciation (AEP).
Ulf Schneider, Chairman of the Board, Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative, President & Founder of SCHNEIDER GROUP based in Moscow, expressed an especially warm welcome to the new members. He emphasized that the nation of Portugal as Western-most territory of Europe with its capital Lisbon is a “symbolic place” for the Initiative. He also stressed that its history admirably shows their exploring spirit and dedication to create growth potential and friendship with the rest of the world. On the occasion Ulf Schneider also announced “concrete steps” towards the creation of a common economic space which are addressed to the EU as well as the EAEU in the very near future – dealing with solutions for harmonization regarding “Cus-toms/Transport” issues, “Certification”, the “Pharma Market”, “Green Deal”, ”Tax/VAT” and “Visa Liberalisation”. All three representatives of the new member companies judged in their key notes that their decision for participation showed an “extremely elementary step” to ensure prosperity instead of possible recession in these changing, challenging times.
To demonstrate the obvious benefits of being a member of the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative the numerous participants (off- and online) of the event were give the exclusive opportunity to join industry-specific round tables on market opportunities in the EAEU: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia – a market overview of the “Pharma Market”, about “Customs & Transport” and the “Green Deal”.

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Common pharmaceutical market from Lisbon to Vladivostok

April 28, 2021: The first meeting of the expert group on the formation of a common pharmaceutical market (Task Force Pharma) in the space of the European Union (EU) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) was held at the House of German Economy in Moscow.

The chairman of the board of the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative, Ulf Schneider, said: “The common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok will help protect the health of the population of both unions and will become the key to strengthening security in Europe.”
ARFP General Director Viktor Dmitriev also stressed: “Today we are experiencing not the best political relations. Experience shows that in such situations it is the people’s diplomacy that becomes the driver of the rapprochement processes. Business represents the most entrepreneurial and mobile segment of the population, therefore this initiative finds support in the business community. In our area, this will allow us to create common rules of the game and common approaches to the development of the pharmaceutical business in the EU and the EAEU, which in turn will have a beneficial effect on the availability and cost of medicines in the space from Lisbon to Vladivostok. “

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Free trade from Lisbon to Vladivostok

April 19, 2021: The members of the Board of the Business Initiative discussed with the Member of the Board (Minister) for Trade of the EEC the prospects for developing cooperation within the framework of creation of a common economic space

Ulf Schneider reported on the growing support for the Initiative driven by the business community: “More than 100 companies from 12 countries have already supported our Initiative and signed a corresponding memorandum, 40 international experts work in 6 Task Forces focused on such issues as visa liberalization, Customs and Transport, Certification, Green Deal, Common pharmaceutical market, Taxation issues. This June, we will submit business proposals on each of the topics to the EU and EAEU authorities”. For his part, Mr. Slepnev expressed hope for fruitful cooperation and tight trade ties in common space from Lisbon to Vladivostok. He also invited the participants of the Initiative to closer cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Commission.

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Towards a unified approach to value added tax

March 26, 2021: Kick-off meeting of the Lisbon-Vladivostok Task Force Tax/VAT .

The Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative Task Force Tax/VAT developed a proposal for stimulating the international market for services. More than a dozen international experts from Russia, Germany, Belarus and Kazakhstan discussed these first proposals of stimulating the EAEU market of services by eliminating financial barriers in the form of value added tax (VAT) double payment.
The presentation of a final paper is foreseen for June 2021 at a conference in Lisbon.

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Optimism unites: the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative and the EAEU

March 25, 2021: The board members of the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative have discussed cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Commission in the areas of green energy and also outlined a number of joint events.

The delegation of the Board of the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative, consisting of the Chairman of the Board, SCHNEIDER GROUP President & Founder, Ulf Schneider, and the Board member, Executive Vice President of the Association of Italian Industrialists – Confindustria Russia, Ernesto Ferlenghi, discussed the development of cooperation with the Member of the Board, the Minister in charge of Industry and Agro-industrial Complex Artak Kamalyan.
The main topic on the agenda was the cooperation in the field of ecology. The parties expressed their readiness to exchange experience, participate in joint events, and also confirmed their intention to jointly send experts to special-ized working bodies.
Mr. Ferlenghi spoke about the great potential of international expertise in the companies-supporters of the Initiative. He assured the Minister that the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative advocates are ready to share their best practices, incl. in the field of ecology. Mr. Kamalyan confirmed that the commission is ready for cooperation and reflected his readiness to participate in the events that promote the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative.
Ulf Schneider noted the positive experience of interaction of the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative with the Eurasian Economic Commission and expressed hope for deepening cooperation in 2021, backing up the assurances with relevant proposals.

Bakery from Lisbon to Vladivostok

March 23, 2021: Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative took part in the leading trade fair for bakery products and production equipment Modern Bakery Moscow.

On the expert panel Ulf Schneider discussed with leading Russian exporters, and international stakeholders, how the unification of standards in customs and certification can facilitate exports for Russian and Eurasian manufacturers towards the EU. Panel participants included the Export Center Russia, and confectionery manufacturers in Russia, such as Konti and Belevskaya.
A special thank you and congratulations to Messe Frankfurt for organizing such a highly attended and successful international live fair!

“Green light” for environmentally neutral business development from Lisbon to Vladivostok

March 3, 2021: European and Eurasian experts discussed joint approaches on key issues addressed in the European Green Deal and EAEU initiatives.

The first meeting of the GreenDeal Task Force created under the Initiative Lisbon-Vladivostok was held. In the format of videoconference more than twenty authoritative experts in the field of ecology and business from Austria, Armenia, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, Russia, France, as well as the representatives of the largest business industry associations supporting the Initiative Lisbon-Vladivostok, discussed common approaches to harmonizing the activities implemented by the EU and the EAEU on the path to sustainable development, including a radical reduction in greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere by 2050. The experts noted the existence of common challenges in achieving environmental neutrality, highlighted possible areas of cooperation between the EU and the EAEU, and also outlined the main directions for inclusion in the position paper.
The presentation of the position paper of the Task Force “GreenDeal” is planned at the conference within the framework of the Initiative Lisbon-Vladivostok, which will be held in Lisbon in June 2021.

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Berlin: The Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade joins Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative

February 26, 2021: The business Initiative Lisbon-Vladivostok has welcomed a significant member in foreign trade promotion from Germany.

An important stakeholder in foreign trade promotion from Germany, the Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade (BWA), joined the business Initiative Lisbon-Vladivostok. Michael Schumann, Chairman of the Board of BWA: “With today’s signing of the Memorandum, we are very pleased to make a clear commitment to the dialogue between the 27 member states of the European Union (EU) and the five states of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in the future alongside the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative. Cooperation between these two important economic areas is in the central interest of the German economy. The BWA will therefore be happy to make an active contribution to promoting the goals of this initiative in the long term.” During a joint meeting Ulf Schneider, Chairman of the Board of the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative, thanked Michael Schumann for BWA’s commitment. Further steps for BWA’s engagement in supporting a technical dialogue between the EU and the EAEU could be discussed.

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The first step on a long road to a unified certification from Lisbon to Vladivostok

February 25, 2021: European and Eurasian experts have outlined specific steps towards harmonization of legislation in the field of certification and are preparing specific proposals at the EU and the EAEU level.

The first meeting of the Certification Task Force, created under the Initiative Lisbon-Vladivostok, was held. In Zoom format, more than a dozen authoritative experts in the field of certification, as well as representatives of the largest industry associations supporting the Initiative Lisbon-Vladivostok, discussed common approaches to harmonizing the EU and the EAEU legislation in the field of certification. The meeting united experts from Germany, France, Belarus and Russia. For more information, please see our press release.

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Moscow: Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Russia joins Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative

January 28, 2021: With the admission of the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Russia, the Initiative gains an important European partner.

During a meeting with the Board members Oleg Prozorov and Arkady Arianoff, Ulf Schneider thanked the Chamber for its engagement and motivation to support closer relations between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union. Oleg Prozorov, CEO and Chairman underlined: “Harmonization of legislation and simplification of the tax burden, as well as customs, and certification procedures, are some of the fundamental requirements of business to the authorities. The Belgian Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Russia (BLCC & BLRB) – operating for many years in the interest of its members – always supported these aims and joins the Initiative with the goal to ease the conditions for doing business. The vision of a common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok is one of the global ideas that the board of our chamber believes in.” Both sides agreed to organize joint discussion formats in Brussels in 2021.

More information about our new member

Hamburg: Online event for and with experts from the logistics industry

December 7, 2020: The first meeting of German speaking logistics experts took place in the framework of the Initiative for a common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok.

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The top-notch panel focused on the question of the future of the Russian and Eurasian region in the economical interplay between Europe and China. All participants agreed that the development of transport and logistics hubs along the long transport corridors has an enormous potential to strengthen the regions along the transit routes economically. According to the opinion of the discussion participants, there is great potential in the development of infrastructure. Nevertheless the logistics industry can only exploit its full potential from Lisbon to Vladivostok with the full support of politics.

Guests of honor were:

  • Christian Pegel, Energy Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
  • Andrey Sobolev, Head of the Trade and Economic Office of the Russian Embassy
  • Prof. Peer Witten, Member of the Supervisory Board of the OTTO Group and Head of the AK

Under the leadership of Uwe Leuschner, Business Club Russia, and Michael Hess, HELLMANN, a task force Logistics/Customs will be working in the next few months on developing concrete proposals for cooperation between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union. The event, optimally organized by the host and new Initiative member, the Russian-German Trade Guild in Hamburg, served as the starting signal for the task force work.

Moscow: Round Table with EEC Minister for the Economy and Finance

November 16, 2020: At the invitation of the Minister for the Economy of the EAEU Commission, Timur Zhaxylykov, the Initiative met together with expert representatives of the commissions from Brussels and Moscow.

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On the agenda of the Initiative is the harmonization or mutual recognition of standards in the fields of value-added tax, transport, customs, the pharmaceutical market, the financial market, and digitization and cooperation in the field of climate and nature protection (“Green Deal”).
On 16 November, important project proposals from these topics were discussed. At the invitation of the Minister for the Economy of the EAEU Commission, Timur Zhaxylykov, the Initiative met together with expert representatives of the commissions from Brussels and Moscow.

“Even in politically difficult times, business has a responsibility to keep doors open for dialogue. We approach both commissions with very concrete proposals in the spirit of common norms and standards.” pointed out Ulf Schneider, Chairman of the Board of the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative.

A follow-up meeting in Brussels is being foreseen for spring 2021. The next major conference will take place in Vienna on April 15, 2021. A conference in Lisbon is planned within the framework of Portugal’s presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2021.

Moscow: Business driven Initiative Lisbon-Vladivostok establishes internationally staffed Executive Board

November 3, 2020: the Initiative for a Common Economic Space from Lisbon to Vladivostok has elected Chairman and the Executive Board for the years 2020/2021

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At the beginning of November, an international executive board was established with members from Austria, Belarus, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia, which will coordinate the further development. The aim of the Initiative, which is now supported by over 100 companies and associations, is to identify ways of mutually reducing trade restrictions and standardizing regulations and to promote dialogue between the Commissions of the European Union (EU) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

“The Coronavirus crisis has just shown us how valuable international cooperation is. Despite all current political obstacles, we must therefore not lose sight of a common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Only if we improve cooperation on our continent can we survive the fierce competition with the USA and China. We should now take the first steps on this long road and organize a dialogue between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union. We can now ensure common rules for the major future topics of Green Deal and digitization,” says Ulf Schneider, newly elected Chairman of the Board of the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative and President of SCHNEIDER GROUP.

The following persons are members of the Executive Board for the years 2020/2021:
Dr. Dietmar Fellner, former delegate of the Austrian Economy in Russia, WKÖ
Ernesto Ferlenghi, President, Confindustria Russia
Michael Harms, CEO, German Eastern Business Association, OA
Emmanuel Quidet, President, Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, CCIFR
Alexander Rahr, Association of Russian Businesses in Germany
Matthias Schepp, Chairman of the Board, German-Russian Chamber of Commerce, AHK
Ulf Schneider, President & Founder, SCHNEIDER GROUP
Alexander Shokhin, President, Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, RSPP
Vladimir Ulakhovich, Chairman, Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, CCI BY
Johan Vanderplaetse, President, Association of European Business in Russia, AEB, Vice-President, Schneider Electric

Moscow: Italian-Russian Chamber of Commerce joins Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative

November 2, 2020: The Italian-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CCIR officially joined the Initiative for a Common Economic Space from Lisbon to Vladivostok.

“The assessment of CCIR is a milestone for the Initiative” underlined Chairman of the Board of the Initiative Ulf Schneider during the meeting with President of CCIR Vincenzo Trani. “We held long and intense talks on cooperation. I believe, with the help of CCIR’s great network in Italy and Russia we will involve many more Italian companies and will have fruitful talks in Rome, Brussels, and Moscow on this importnt project.” President Trani stressed his readiness to support the further development of the Initiative.

Moscow: CCI France Russie joins Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative

October 13, 2020: the French-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CCI France Russie officially joined the Initiative for a Common Economic Space from Lisbon to Vladivostok.

During a meeting between President Emmanuel Quidet and Ulf Schneider, Co-Chairman of the Initiative, both underlined the importance of an active engagement of French business in this Initiative.

Emmanuel Quidet, signed the joint memorandum of the Initiative during the meeting. Quidet: “It is the role of business to build bridges on our continent, even in politically difficult times. Historically, France has always been committed to a common space between the Atlantic and the Pacific. We will now actively pursue this further.”

“We need official dialogue on a technical level between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union. Cooperation on very practical projects helps the economy of both Unions equally.” says Ulf Schneider, Co-Chairman of the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative. “We consider it particularly important to have the support of the French business community, represented by CCIFR. Only with the French on our side can we, as an Initiative, develop the strength to move this important project forward in the months and years ahead.”

About the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative
Since 2015, the business Initiative has been calling for a constructive, official dialogue between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). The EAEU is an economic union founded in 2014 by Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. More than 100 companies, associations, and think tanks from 9 countries have since joined the Initiative. The Initiative meets several times a year in EU and EAEU countries with the participation of political and economic decision makers. Concrete projects such as a common pharma market, the harmonization of customs regulations, tax legislation, technical norms and standards, a common financial market, and facilitated visa regimes are on the Initiative’s agenda.

Moscow: From Vision to Reality – Conference at TPP

On March 4, 2020, the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative held a special conference in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation that drew together over 200 high profile business representatives, politicians, and diplomats from a large number of countries from the EU and EAEU spaces.

In his keynote speech, the President of the TPP, Sergey Katyrin stressed that cooperation between the unions is beneficial for all parties as it serves as a prerequisite for sustainable economic development of both regions. Following the panel discussion, Mr. Katyrin signed the joint Memorandum.

The new Minister of Industry and Agriculture of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), Artak Kamalyan pointed out the importance of a concrete dialogue with the EU.

A highlight was the speech of Prof. Dr. Spartak, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who underlined, that non-tariff barriers for trade are one of the priorities that must be tackled in the framework of cooperation between the EU and the EAEU.

Furthermore, 6 new members joined the Initiative:

  • Ahlers (Belgium)
  • BlaBlaCar (France)
  • Julius Meinl (Austria)
  • Association Rosspetsmash (Russia)
  • Special Economic Zone LOTOS (Russia)
  • Association Bumprom (Russia)

Material of the session:

Berlin: Seven new members at grant AHK Russia Conference

On February 18, 2020, the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative welcomed seven new members from Germany, Russia, and Kazakhstan. On the occasion of the grand Russia Conference of the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce, Dürr AG, Bionorica, InterTechElectro, Spectrum, Hausman & Partners, Brezelino, and the German-Kazakh University signed the joint memorandum.  
The signing ceremony was attended by 600 exclusive guests and High-ranking officials such as German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier, Russia’s Minister for Economic Development, Maxim Reshetnikov, and Minister of Trade and Industry, Denis Manturov.
In his remarks, Dr. Heinz Dürr, one of the most important German entrepreneurs successfully doing business in Russia for many decades, emphasized the importance of the dialogue between the EU and their neighbors to the east.
Dr. Dietrich Möller, representative of AHK for Dialogue with the EAEU, and former president of SIEMENS Russia, moderated the signing ceremony.

Milan: Confindustria Russia joins the Initiative for a Common Economic Space

On December 10, 2019, the Russian chapter of General Confederation of Italian Industry, Confindusria Russia, officially joined the Initiative for a Common Economic Space from Lisbon to Vladivostok.
During a round table discussion with Italian business representatives, Ernesto Ferlenghi, President of Confindustria Russia, signed the joint Memorandum advocating official talks between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union. With Confindustria Russia, the Lisbon Vladivostok Initiative is supported by nearly 80 business chambers and companies from 8 countries across the EU and EAEU.
Ulf Schneider, Co-Chairman of the Initiative, explained “The support of the Italian business community is an important milestone for us. Italy is one of the strongest European trade partners for the countries of the EAEU. The Italian engagement will further strengthen our voice vis-à-vis the EU and the EAEU.”
The initiative sets its focus on cooperation at technical level, with special emphasis on the harmonization of technical regulations, customs, and tax procedures. In the year 2019 important steps forward could be made—talks between both commissions on concrete projects were initiated and are now taking place on a regular basis.
The round table discussion in Milan was shaped by the question of how the development of the Eurasian Economic Commission can benefit the economic interests of Italian large and medium-sized enterprises. Practical issues, such as the enforcement of procedures and internal market regulations in the EAEU, were discussed with the participating representatives of the Eurasian Economic Commission.

Vienna: Austria at the centre of a common economic space

On November 11, Dr. Wolfgang Schüssel, former Austrian Chancellor, spoke in Vienna at the invitation of the Lisbon Vladivostok Initiative. The 60 high level guests from politics, economics, and science discussed current geopolitical developments with the experienced state politician and discussed opportunities for a rapprochement between the European Union (EU) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). DDr. Elisabeth Stampfl-Blaha, Director of Austrian Standards, discussed the most current practical form of cooperation: the harmonisation of technical norms and standards. Gunter Deuber, Senior Director of Raiffeisen Bank International, presented the view of the financial markets on Russia and its neighbouring countries as well as current developments in the banking sector. Ulf Schneider, co-chairman of the Initiative, gave an introduction to the working group for a Common Economic Space, and moderated the up-following discussion.
Four Austrian companies signed the Memorandum of the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative: BERTSCH Holding, backaldrin, Gebrüder Weiss, and Raiffeisen Bank International.

Nur-Sultan: The Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative welcomes two new members

At the third EAEU Conference of the German Chambers of Commerce in Nur-Sultan on October 22, the German companies Messe Frankfurt and C. Spaarmann Logistics GmbH signed the joint memorandum of the business initiative for a Common Economic Space from Lisbon to Vladivostok.
“When we were invited to join, we did not hesitate. Our daily business is to connect the region from Lisbon to Vladivostok through our logistic solutions. That is why we support the dialogue between the EU and the EAEU – to improve trade relations.” Ainur Abdila, General Director of C. Spaarmann Kazakhstan, commented. The initiative’s Co-Chairman, Ulf Schneider, congratulated the companies on their membership. The initiative is now supported by 73 business chambers and companies.

Brussels: A Trade Strategy for the Eurasian Economic Union – 13th Working Group Session

In times of global trade conflicts, neighbours need to move closer together. “A Trade Strategy for the Eurasian Economic Union” was the headline for the strategic round table meeting of the Lisbon-Vladivostok Initiative on October 9, 2019, which brought together the EU Commission and the Eurasian Economic Commission . The delegation from Moscow was led by EEC Minister of Economy and Finance, Timur Zhaksylykov. In his address to more than 50 guests from politics and business, he called for a structured and comprehensive economic rapprochement with the EU. The Directors of Confindustria Russia and the German Eastern Business Association, Alfredo Gozzi and Michael Harms, spoke on behalf of Italian and German businesses, favoring for a closer cooperation. The meeting was characterised by a constructive and open atmosphere. Both the EEC and the EU Commission made it clear in which areas concrete cooperation is possible. In-depth discussions to simplify trade relations are to follow.

Berlin: 12th Working Group meeting discusses visa regulations

People who meet directly break down prejudices. Dirk Wiese, Coordinator for Intersocietal Cooperation with Russia, Central Asia and the Eastern Partnership Countries of the German Federal Foreign Office, gave this short description regarding current questions on visa regulations with the states of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The business initiative Lisbon Vladivostok hosted their 12th working group meeting on Wednesday, September 25 2019, in Berlin. The focus was on the liberalisation of visa regulations with Russia and countries of the Eurasian Economic Union. Wiese agreed with the initiative’s goal, stressing that “Visa liberalisation reduces prejudices.”

However, Wiese limited Germany’s involvement in visa liberalisation due to the framework of the European Union. In order for other EU partners to support visa liberalisation with the EAEU and general rapprochement with Russia, there needed to be tangible progress in the Ukrainian conflict. The first step has been taken here with the recent exchange of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine.

“These days we see a lot of windows of opportunity to make steps towards a serious dialogue between the EU and the EAEU,” affirmed Ulf Schneider, Chairman of the Lisbon Vladivostok Initiative. Together with Co-Chairman Alexander Rahr, moderator of the session, he underlined that the chances for rapprochement must be actively taken by Germany and the EU.

For the Federal Ministry of the Interior, general progress has already been made in liberalising visa issuance for this group of states. But visa freedom can only be achieved at the end of a process, stressed Dr. Michael Jansen, head of the visa and entry policy unit. The visa facilitation measures for Russia envisaged years ago have been suspended for political reasons, whereas concrete progress on such regulations is being made with Belarus.

Andreas Metz of the German Eastern Business Association pointed out a study of the European Union, according to which visa liberalisation could have noticeable effects for the EU economy. The increase in turnover is estimated to be at least EUR 4 bn per year due to easier entry regulations and 40,000 new jobs could be created in the tourism industry in the first year alone. These economic effects of rapprochement should be taken into account.

In principle, Dirk Wiese welcomed the initiative to create a common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok, which the initiative strives for. “I think the idea is the right approach,” he said. This is also in line with the coalition agreement between the CDU/CSU and SPD, where a commitment to a common economic space has been made.

During the working group meeting, the global energy company Uniper signed the memorandum for a common economic area and thus became a new member of the Lisbon-Vladivostok initiative. Uniper is active in more than 40 countries. In addition to energy production, the company procures, stores, transports, and supplies raw materials such as natural gas, LNG, coal, and other energy-related products.

Berlin: 11th Working Group Session

On June 28 2019, the Initiative Lisbon-Vladivostok welcomed two new members: Wintershall Dea, Europe’s largest oil and gas company, and Smyrise AG, a major supplier of fragrances and flavors, cosmetic ingredient solutions, and natural nutrition. The Initiative now has 66 signatories, including companies, business associations, and think tanks.
“Especially in times when there is hardly any political movement between Europe and Russia, the economy must become active,” said Ulf Schneider, co-chairman of the initiative. He stressed that “Our goal is to be a strong voice for cooperation between East and West. Therefore, we want to carry this Initiative to all countries located between the Portuguese capital Lisbon and the most far eastern tip of Russia.”
Dialogue, Trust, Security—for the SPD Spokesman on Foreign Affairs Nils Schmid, these are the three pillars of the New Eastern Policy. “Willy Brandt’s Eastern Policy had a good reputation. And these principles are in demand today more than ever”, Schmid said during his keynote. In the meantime, there has been no movement forward in the political debate between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), especially with EEU’s member state Russia. The restrictions on trade and investment due to sanctions on both sides are costing billions. With great approval from the Working Group, Schmid underlined that he favors closer cooperation with the EEU.
Han Zuyderwijk made clear what happens when European-Russian cooperation stays on hold. The Dutch lawyer is an expert on technical standardization, and advises that joint projects between the EU and EEU to define binding norms and standards for both sides should be re-activated. “When the European Union withdraws, competitors take their seat,” he warned.
Since every initiative needs a platform for exchange, Schneider announced that the Working Group will publish its own newsletter in the future. Every two months “Lisbon-Vladivostok News” will report on the business Initiative and developments in EU-EAEU relations. Subscribe to the newsletter!

10th Meeting: November 28 2018 Berlin

Coming together at the Representation of the Airbus Group in Berlin the 10th meeting was warmly introduced by Maco Miklis, Head of Region Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia of Airbus and Professor Gabriel Felbermayer as active spokesperson of the working group. Trade policies between east and west were the speeches emphasis. Sevak Sarukhanyan, Adviser to the Chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission, completed the productive gathering with his vision of a common energy market from Lisbon to Vladivostok. The meeting was crowned by a signing ceremony with several participants joining the working group by supporting the Memorandum. The evening was rounded off by casual exchange.

9th Meeting: April 23 2018 Brussels

The 9th meeting of the Working Group took place in the sidelines of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Conference on “EU and the EEU – Chances and Challenges for more Cooperation” in Brussels. High rank meetings with the Belorussian foreign Minister Vladimir Makey, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev and his ambassador to Germany, Bolat Nussupov were brought to topic. The participants were furthermore informed about the results of meetings with the German Ministry of Economy in Berlin and with the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington. The primary focus of the gathering was on diplomatic activities and further event planning. The circle of participants also focused on strategic elements of the working group. 

8th Meeting: February 15 2018 – Moscow

After a series of meetings on EU ground, the 8th meeting was the first one to take place in a member state of the Eurasian Economic Union. An opening statement of Tatiana Valovaya, Minister for Integration of the Eurasian Economic Commission, was followed by an official signing procedure of the Memorandum by representatives of the German companies Robert Bosch and Knorr-Bremse. After discussing the three existing task forces – customs and logistics, technical regulations and visa facilitation- a forth one was introduced: chances and challenges of digitalization in a common economic zone. The meeting was furthermore enhanced by scientific lectures as the one from Dr. Anastasia Stepanova from the International Institute of Applied Science’s (IIASA), who reported on non-tariff barriers, foreign direct investments and transport with regard to the working groups efforts.

2nd Meeting: June 13 2016 Berlin

The second get-together in Berlin was based on the professional input of Dr. Alexander Libman of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs and Dr. Ricardo Giucci. While the former argued on perspectives for both Russia and Europe emerging from a common economic space, Mr. Giucci thematized the harmonization and standardization of technical norms in terms of creating a base for the developing communal zone.

1st Meeting: November 22-23 2015 – Potsdam

The first gathering marked the birth of the Working Group “Common Economic Space from Lisbon to Vladivostok”. Personalities from all areas of civil society, ranging from politics and economy to science and arts participated in the meeting. Matthias Platzeck, Chairman of the German-Russian Foru, and Dr. Gernot Erler, by then still Member of German Parliament and Special Representative of the German Government for Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, gave inspiring keynote speeches and thereby opened a lively discussion about the future of a cross-border common economic space. In connection therewith conceptual ideas for the working group’s set-up as well as chances, possible risks and challenges were broached. The two-day gathering was the successful prelude of an ongoing series of talks and meetings up until today