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European business supports the EU – EAEU common economic space

_ Philippe Pegorier, president and general director of Alstom Russia. Report held at the round table “EAEU and trade partners: common economic space” * as part of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2016. Saint Petersburg, June 16th 2016.

The European Union remains a first rate partner and the top investor in the EAEU and in Russia. In Russia, 75% of direct investment is from the EU, which means that Europe will remain the EAEU’s main trade and investment partner for a long time, despite all the political issues, which, by the way, do not affect our business.

I would like to take the opportunity to call the Chairman of the European Commission, Mr. Juncker, and Commissioner Mr. Oettinger to consider opening an official dialogue with the EAEU, and to start negotiations on a free trade agreement between the EU and the EAEU.

For European companies the EAEU is a reality, meaning that we are and should be integrated. For example, my company, Alstom, has a factory in Astana and we make use of all the opportunities provided by the EAEU. Our competitor, Stadler, in Belarus does the same. So I think for us the EAEU is something that already exists and works.

We believe that such negotiations between the EU and the EAEU about a common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok would be more advantageous for us as European businesses investing in the EAEU member states. It would help create a more favourable business environment within the EAEU. Moreover, the regional economic union would gain from the EU’s extensive experience in legislation.

We think that such talks between the EU and the EAEU at a regional level signifies that we would obviously overcome the currently difficulties and frustration of bilateral talks with the Russian Federation. Finally, it will involve some countries such as Belarus and Armenia, which are either part of the European neighbourhood policy or they could potentially become part of it to be allocated more space when negotiating with the EU.

Two main areas for cooperation between the EU and the EAEU that would be very helpful for us. Firstly, parallel imports. I think the EU could share its experience regarding the current legislation with the EAEU. Secondly, and this is something that is very important to us, the harmonization of technical standards and regulations critical in removing trade barriers, which would allow us to work in both unions, because technical standards are the language of this industry.

We hope that the European and Eurasian commissions will hold talks soon to launch such a dialogue.

* The round table and SPIEF-2016 were attended by the director of the Center for Eurasian Studies (CES) Jurij Kofner.

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