Economic Growth instead of Visa-Barriers. Common Position of European Business Associations

On June 3rd and 4th the next EU-Russia Summit is going to be held in St. Petersburg. Leading European business associations, representing more than one million companies all over Europe, will take this as an opportunity to call for the liberalisation of business visa-requirements with Russia and other neighbouring countries of the European Union.

The appeal is an initiative of business associations from France and Germany with more than 900.000 member companies in the two strongest EU economies. The appeal is already supported by the leading industrial associations of Denmark, Finland, Poland and Italy. Finland and Poland are EU member states having borders with Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. Denmark currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Italy is the third largest economy in the Schengen area. Business associations of further Schengen countries are expected to join the initiative.

“In order to avoid an economic relapse of Europe within the global competition, we have to work towards a common economic space. As a first crucial step, the removal of visa barriers with our neighbouring countries in Eastern Europe is required”, said Eckhard Cordes, the Chairman of the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations (Ost-Ausschuss). “Visa barriers constrain investment and produces red tape costing hundreds of millions of Euros per annum. We have no time to lose as regards the weak economic growth in Europe at the moment,”

“Companies need new markets to develop themselves and to contribute to national and global economies ‘growth. Visa liberalization is a first and simple step that will leverage the European growth potential, from Lisboa to Vladivostok, and bring mutual advantages to all countries and all partners, private sector as well as governments!” underlines Thierry Courtaigne, Vice President and CEO of MEDEF International (French Business Confederation).

Thomas Bustrup, Deputy Director General of the Confederation of Danish Industry, commented that ”Boosting economic and commercial relations beyond the borders of the EU is an important avenue for growth that we have to pursue persistently. A necessary initial step would be to deregulate visa requirements. This would, for instance, enable European companies to reap the full benefits of Russia’s accession to the WTO.”

And Mikko Pukkinen, Director General of the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK, remarked: “The Confederation of Finnish Industries EK is a strong supporter of all efforts to improve the conditions for doing cross-border business. Transition to a more liberal visa regime with Russia and Eastern Europe is an important step for further growth of EU business in this area.”
The joint appeal, attached to this press release, will be published simultaneously in Brussels and in the countries of the participating industry associations. It addresses the parliaments and governments of the Schengen countries as well as the European Parliament and the EU Commission.