Former Chancellor of Germany suggests strategic EU-EAEU cooperation

_ Eurasian Studies. Moscow, 15 September 2019.

On 12 September 2019 in Moscow the conference “The Future is connected: Industrial policy in times of difficult geopolitical problems” took place.

Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) Tigran Sargsyan shared his vision of the future Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the concept “From Lisbon to Vladivostok”. The former Chancellor of Germany, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Rosneft Oil Company, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Nord Stream AG Gerhard Schroeder, the Chairman of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation Elvira Nabiullina and the President and Director of Wilo Group Oliver Hermes also took part in the plenary session.

Industrial policies as a motor for economic growth

The event focused on the future of international industrial policy and the importance of Russia and Central Asia as an economic and cultural bridge between Asia and Europe. „The discussion concerning strategic industrial policy is undergoing a global renaissance. We want to take these developments as an opportunity to discuss new strategic relationships and strengthen existing alliances with you“, opened Oliver Hermes the innovation conference. Hermes once again emphasized the importance of industrial policies with the presentation of some recently published industrial strategies, such as the “Made in China 2025 Initiative”, the visions formulated in the Near and Middle East for further diversification of the economy or the Chinese “Belt & Road Initiative”.

International trade conflicts and slowing global economic growth

A special focus of the keynote speakers was on the current geopolitical challenges that industry is increasingly facing. International trade conflicts such as the conflict between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China were also discussed. “An important external factor is a slowdown in growth of the global economy, which has proven more tangible than expected due to, among other things, the growing contradictions in international trade”, explained Russian Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina. Nabiullina was named 2015’s Central Bank Governor of the Year by Euromoney magazine and 2016’s Best Central Bank Governor in Europe by The Banker magazine. She gave an outlook on the development of the world economy and presented Russia’s fiscal strategy. It was only at the beginning of this month that the Russian central bank had followed its course and lowered the key interest rate to seven percent.

Russia’s and Central Asia’s role as a motor of integration

Thanks to the government-driven diversification of the Russian economy and its advantageous geographical location, Russia will play a central role as a driver of innovation for the entire Eurasian region and will become more attractive for foreign investment. These investments are increasingly coming from Asia. Gerhard Schröder, former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, has been working for years to intensify German-Russian relations. In his keynote speech, he expressed the need for a stronger dialogue between the two countries, especially in difficult times: “I believe in the common future of the European Union and the Russian Federation!”

“Without Russia, we will not be able to cope with the modern challenges. Russia and Germany are benefiting from mutual partnership, and we must keep them in order to strengthen our position on the world market. Europe will not retain its economic weight without the capabilities of Russia. The coordinates of world politics do not shift in favor of Europe. Countries like Brazil, India and China are becoming more and more economically and politically powerful. Europe needs partners with strong economic and political potential. One of the most important partners for Europe is Russia, “said the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Nord Stream AG.

In order to prevent Russia from finally turning to the Asian horizon, Europe should make efforts to build closer economic relations with Russia. The mutual sanctions are not a correct decision, Schröder continued.

“Therefore, I would suggest bringing Russia closer to Europe at European level and not offering EU membership, but the status of an associate member, which includes a free trade area, a visa-free zone and a political and economic dialogue. This would strengthen our relations with Russia and we could benefit from huge Russian resources. We need such an association between Russia and the European Union to ensure peace, stability and prosperity across the continent. “

Schröder fully supported the statement by French President Macron that the European continent would never be safe if Europe did not clarify and consolidate its relations with Russia. “I hope the Federal Government will take the same view,” added the former Chancellor.

Not only Russia, but also the Eurasian Economic Union as a whole, is gaining strategic importance for world trade. The Eurasian Economic Union includes Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Kazakhstan. ” The creation of the Eurasian Economic Union has expanded the economic influence of smaller nations, as these countries now have influence over decisions made in a governing body that has 180 million residents,” said Tigran Sargsyan, Chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission at the Innovation Conference. “The influence of our economy is growing. We have signed numerous Memorandums of Understanding with countries around the world to intensify our trade. Unfortunately, the lack of dialogue between the Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union has led to international trade relations being influenced and the Eurasian Economic Union has consequently focused on strengthening its ties with the Asia-Pacific region,” Sargsyan continued.

Globalization, global networking and free trade

At the end of the Innovation Conference, host Oliver Hermes was impressed by the discussions of the day and appealed to representatives from politics and industry to maintain and support alliances to safeguard a multilateral, global world order with free economic structures: “Globalization, global networking and free trade have led to a growing world economy. Now, after all these years of upswing, the global economy is facing increasing uncertainty. One quickly gets the impression that industry, especially in Europe, has no courage to fight against this uncertainty. I am convinced that today’s Innovation Conference has provided the ideal platform to set new impulses for joint future strategies and to position ourselves as ambassadors of a multilateral world order”.

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