Making the most
of EU free trade EU expert Olivier Vedrine explores coming EU-Ukraine Association Agreement opportunities About the author: Olivier Vedrine (olivier.vedrine@gmail. com) is an EU integration expert at Ukrainian law firm Proxen. He is also President of the Continental University business school in Kyiv and member of the Academic Council at the Assembly of European Regions in Strasbourg.
With the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement set to come into force on 1 January, 2016, companies across Ukraine are looking for ways to make the most of the opportunities presented by the free trade component of this landmark agreement. The ongoing conflict with Russia, which for decades had been a primary market for Ukrainian goods and services, has added a sense of urgency to the process of expanding into EU markets, creating a situation where thousands of Ukrainian companies are increasingly viewing trade with the European Union as the central component of their long-term business plans. Trade between Ukraine and the EU has already been steadily increasing for some years, allowing EU nations to collectively surpass Russia as Ukraine’s number one trade partner. However, the advent of an extensive free trade zone between Ukraine and the EU will take this relationship to an entirely new level, bringing with it enormous opportunities while creating considerable challenges for Ukrainian companies looking to adapt to EU regulations and appeal to potential new European partners. As Ukraine prepares for the full implementation of the EU Association Agreement, Lviv Today spoke to EU integration expert Olivier Vedrine about the opportunities and potential pitfalls which lie ahead. French academic Vedrine has been involved in activism and educational efforts to promote EU integration since his student days in the early 1990s, and currently serves as a member of the Academic Council of the Assembly of European Regions. A vocal advocate of Ukraine’s EU integration, Vedrine believes that the Association Agreement could serve as a watershed moment in Ukraine’s postSoviet development. However, he cautions that Ukrainian companies must first learn to navigate the Brussels bureaucracy and promote their interests at the EU institutional level, while also battling corruption and improving quality controls on the home front. Many Ukrainian companies are currently looking to expand into EU markets. LVIV TODAY | Summer 2015