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April 2011
   
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East Invest: strengthening cooperation between the EU and its Eastern Neighbours

The six Eastern Partnership countries - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine - are a region of considerable growth potential for European companies. Yet, the level of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) remains an area for improvement in Eastern Europe, with FDI per capita still up to six times lower than in Central Europe.

Despite some remarkable recent achievements, the 'Doing Business' rankings of the World Bank show that important progress is still needed in most countries regarding the facilitation of enterprise creation and development. This is confirmed by a EUROCHAMBRES survey, according to which insufficient access to finance, high level of bureaucracy and the lack of management skills are among the main obstacles for doing business in Eastern Europe.

In order to address these challenges, EUROCHAMBRES has just kicked-started "East Invest", a new regional economic and investment promotion programme that aims to foster the economic development of the Eastern Partnership countries. The project is one of the three SME flagship initiatives that the European Commission has launched in the frame of its Eastern Partnership policy, and benefits of the financial support of the European Union.

With a total budget of 8.75 million EUR and the cooperation of the East Alliance (85 partner organisations from both regions), East Invest will offer a number of tools and activities aimed at Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Business Support Organisation (BSOs) such as participation in trade fairs, B2B meetings, trainings and seminars.

"Clearly, one single programme cannot in itself turn the tide, but if implemented with the right synergies and involving the relevant stakeholders, it can make a significant impact," said President Alessandro Barberis during the launching conference of the programme, on 31 March in Brussels.

Companies wishing to take advantage of the programme should contact their national focal point. The list of the national focal points can be found on the project's website www.east-invest.eu.

Contact: Birgit Arens ; Irina Tikhonova
Press Release 31 March
Pictures of the event
East Invest website

 
 
Companies and Entrepreneurship
Position Small Business Act: 12 priority measures for implementation in 2011
In view of the Informal Competitiveness Council of 13 May, EUROCHAMBRES has urged ministers to affirm their commitment to deliver the actions set out in the Small Business Act Review. In a letter to the Hungarian Minister chairing the meeting, Zoltan Cséfalvay, President Alessandro Barberis calls for ministers to endorse the Review and to identify a short list of priority measures. The letter sets out 12 points from the Review that Chambers consider priorities for implementation at national and EU level.
 
International Relations and Trade
Info International Trade Academy successfully concluded
36 participants from 26 countries gathered on 27-30 March in Jodoigne (Belgium) for the eighth edition of EUROCHAMBRES' International Trade Academy. Participants were extremely satisfied with the courses, the social programme and the venue as well as from the visit to the European Commission where they received an in-depth briefing on DG Trade's Export Helpdesk.
Export Helpdesk website EN FR
Position EUROCHAMBRES reviews performance of European Observatory on Counterfeiting and Piracy
In parallel with the move of the European Observatory on Counterfeiting and Piracy from DG Internal Market and Services to the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM), EUROCHAMBRES presented its views on how such Observatory has been performing in the past and how its work can possibly be improved. In particular, the Observatory's two main objectives should be to facilitate the exchange of information at all levels, and to engage in sustainable EU-wide public awareness building.
Contact: Paul Fournier
The European Observatory on Counterfeiting and Piracy website EN FR
Opportunity Understanding China training 2011: deadline for applications approaching
Only a few weeks remain until the application period for the 2011 Understanding China training programme closes on 1 May. Successful candidates will join other employees of business intermediary organisations from across Europe who will receive in-depth and practical information on doing business in China.
Contact: Anita Ryczan
Info New guide for SMEs on "Greening China"
Following the publication of the policy brief "Winning China's markets", a new guide was produced in the framework of the Understanding China programme. "Greening China" highlights the opportunities for European small and medium enterprises (SMEs) arising from the green growth in China, which is expected to be boosted by China's recently published Five-Year Plan.
Contact: Freya Lemcke
Event Seminar on technological innovation for SMEs in Brazil
On 19-20 May, the AL-INVEST programme organises a seminar on technological innovation as a facilitator for small businesses' competiveness in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The event hosted by CNI Programme, in association with EUROCHAMBRES, CNI (the Brazilian National Confederation of Industry), AILA (the Latin American Industrialists Association) and AICO (the Ibero-American Association of Chambers of Commerce), aims at fostering exchange of experience and good practices between European and Latin American business associations and public authorities on ways to strengthen innovation, technology and competitiveness for SMEs.
Event Conference "EU-Mediterranean Trade and Investment Relations Beyond the Current Turmoil" (Brussels, 15 April)
What is the impact of the current political crisis on EU-Mediterranean trade and investment? A conference in Brussels on 15 April, gathering policymakers, stakeholders and entrepreneurs, will try to answer the question and look into the future of the Euromed trade and investment relations. The event is organised by MedAlliance, the consortium managing the Invest in Med programme. Registrations are open until 13 April.
Contact: Marta Vojtova
Conference information and registration EN FR
Invest in Med website EN FR
Info EUROCHAMBRES and AEB discuss EU-Russia relations
Future developments in EU-Russia relations and access for European businesses to the Russian market were at the heart of a meeting between EUROCHAMBRES and a delegation of AEB (the Association of European Businesses in the Russian Federation) in Brussels on 18 March. AEB's delegation was led by Deputy Chairman Philippe Cohen and CEO Frank Schauff.
 
Education, Training and Social Affairs
Opportunity Search for volunteers to coach creative European students
On 19-20 May, 100 top-performing-students from 14 European countries will come to Brussels at the "Social Innovation Camp" to present innovative viable solutions to the challenges put to them by the business community. EUROCHAMBRES and JA-YE Europe (Junior Achievement Young Enterprise), coordinator of the initiative, are looking for volunteers wishing to share their experience to guide the students as they make decisions about how to solve the challenges and encourage them to be creative and entrepreneurial in their thinking.
Info Universities to become more responsive to the world of work
EUROCHAMBRES played a prominent role in the fourth University Business Forum in Brussels on 22-23 March. Secretary General Arnaldo Abruzzini attended a discussion with European Commissioner for Education Androulla Vassiliou, where he underlined the key role for Chambers in facilitating university-business cooperation. In addition, EU Affairs Director Ben Butters chaired the workshop "Equipping people with the right knowledge, skills and competences."
Info EUROCHAMBRES at first Tripartite Social Forum
EUROCHAMBRES took part in the first Tripartite Social Forum in Brussels on 10-11 March. The Forum, organised by the European Commission and opened by Employment Commissioner, László Andor, discussed the implementation of the Europe 2020 flagship initiative "An Agenda for New Skills and Jobs". Mr Andor noted the strong reaction to the reference to open-ended contracts in the New Skills and Jobs communication - a concern raised by EUROCHAMBRES - and acknowledged the need to discuss this issue further with stakeholders. EUROCHAMBRES highlighted the importance of self-employment and vocational training to future Europe's employment strategy.
Contact: Ben Butters
 
Innovation: Trends and Tools
Event Business Breakfast on Intelligent Energy
On 14 April EUROCHAMBRES and the Enterprise Europe Network Sector Group Intelligent Energy organise a Business Breakfast in Brussels on "Support and Funding Instruments for SMEs in Intelligent Energy". The event will provide views and recommendations on how to best support small businesses on intelligent energy topics based on direct experience and provide an overview of existing cooperation and funding tools. The event will take place in the framework of the EU Sustainable Energy Week.
 
EU Legislative Framework
Position Disappointing vote on Consumer Rights
On 24 March, the European Parliament voted on a new Directive on Consumer Rights. The compromise adopted does not facilitate cross-border commerce as initially expected, which highly disappointed EUROCHAMBRES. But the vote is not final: a discussion will now start between the three European Institutions, and the European Parliament's position is expected to be softened by the Council. EUROCHAMBRES will remain active in explaining to policy makers the pitfalls of the new directive.
Position Alternative Dispute Resolution: an efficient solution to consumer conflicts
A wide range of Alternative Dispute Resolution services - often provided by Chambers - offer an efficient conflict resolution means to consumers. EUROCHAMBRES contributed to a European Commission consultation on the subject with a position paper that highlights the need for greater coordination of such initiatives at EU level and the advantage of using new technologies to cut dispute resolution costs.
 
Chambers' News
Info President Barberis strengthens ties with Italian counterparts
On 23 March, President Alessandro Barberis travelled to Rome (Italy) to outline the main achievements of his first year of Presidency to the Executive Board of Unioncamere, the Union of Italian Chambers. The following day, Mr Barberis had a meeting in Confindustria, the Italian employers' federation, in the presence of President Emma Marcegaglia and of the Italian Chamber Presidents nominated by Confindustria, to present EUROCHAMBRES' internationalisation strategy and explore the possibility of reinforced cooperation.

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