#MittelstandTalks 1: Ukraine and Middle East Crisis: Impact on Trade and Open EU Borders

European Entrepreneurs CEA-PME and the Association of small and medium enterprises (BVMW) organised in the form of a lunch debate the first of its #MittelstandTalks on the 4th April 2016 at the International Press Centre in Brussels. The event took the format of a round table with a keynote speaker followed by further interventions and an interactive Q&A session.

The event started with the speech of Mrs Marina Kaljurand, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia who stated that “Crimea is not forgotten. Russia needs to be held accountable. Two years have passed since Russia illegally annexed Crimea and Sevastopol on March 18, 2014, marked the beginning of Russia`s ongoing attack on the territorial integrity of Ukraine and represents the most blatant violation in decades of the UN charta, international law, the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris – document at the heart of the European security order”.

Following her keynote speech, the Federal General Manager of Bundesverband Mittelständische Wirtshaft e.V. (BVMW), Prof. Dr. Roland Wöller, emphasised that Europe`s SMEs are more and more concerned about the growing uncertainty around Europe`s external borders and its impact on exports and trade.

“What can the European Union’s diplomacy and the EU Member States do to avoid increasing negative impacts on Europe’s economy”? asked Managing Director of European Entrepreneurs (CEA-PME), Stefan Moritz.

Raivo Altmets, Secretary General of the Estonian SME association(EVEA), considered of utmost importance that the EU-Ukraine economic association agreement comes into force. In this regard, he was concerned about the referendum that was going to be held the following day after in the Netherlands. Dutch MEP Johannes van Baalen (VVD/ALDE) commented on the topic with positive auspices, stating that he couldn’t believe that a small country like the Netherlands, that needs foreign trade and lives on it since centuries, could ever consider to reject a trade and association agreement like the one with Ukraine.

Unfortunately, both speakers where disappointed by the negative result of the referendum the day after.

“We stress the importance of strengthening the European Union`s Eastern Partnership policy. We consider concrete cooperation programs with all Eastern Partnership countries to be essential”, stated Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand. Prof. Wöller welcomed this commitment very much as an important opportunity also for the European Mittelstand.

 


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