The European Union (EU) is the largest and most powerful of the trade associations in Europe. The EU is a single market with standardized laws, regulations, and a common currency; the Euro. Its member nations are located primarily on the European continent. The European associations' mission statement consists of "four freedoms" guaranteeing the freedom of movement of people, goods, services, and capital. Its market generates nearly one-third of the world's gross domestic income.
Individual European associations within EU include:
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
The European Union has promised uniform single market regulations; however the reality is that individual member nations still enforce their own market regulations and enforce their own trade barriers. This can affect U.S. companies and investors doing business in the EU, particularly U.S. exports of biotechnological and agricultural goods.
For the United States Department of Commerce, one of the major areas of contention with the EU is enforcing matters of intellectual property rights for American innovations entering the EU marketplace.
The United States shares much common ground with the European Union, although there are many differences and pitfalls that may occur for U.S. entrepreneurs and investors entering this relatively new marketplace. For this reason, American companies must learn as much as they can about the EU and its member nations before doing business there.
Talk to U.S. government advisors before doing business with the European Free Trade AssociationYou'll find these trade specialists at agencies within the U.S. Department of Commerce as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other independent government agencies.
Doing Business in the European Union (PDF). They also offer a "toolkit" for protecting intellectual property rights in the EU. For direct contact with trade consultants, the U.S. Commercial Service lists specialists' contact information by trade sector. They also have contact information for European-based U.S. trade sector specialists included in the agency's Showcase Europe program. For American food and agriculture companies, the U.S. Foreign Agriculture Service offers country-by-country in-depth Europe guides (PDF) that include trade association contacts for exporters.
Seek advice from European Union trade specialists and business organizations based in EuropeThere are organizations sponsored or co-sponsored by the EU that offer extensive country-by-country market information, specific trade specialist contact information, and trade services for foreign businesses and investors.
Look for trade associations in Europe unaffiliated with the EUThere are online directories available of European-based trade specialists sponsored by established world organizations as well as directories sponsored by independent organizations and Europe associations.
The Federation of International Trade Associations (FITA), a European commercial resource, has a huge list of trade sector-specific individual business contacts and associations; europe-based in large part. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe offers an extensive searchable online directory of country-by-country European trade specialists, sector-based free trade associations, and Europe government-specific contacts. EuroPages is a commercially-published searchable business-to-business directory of companies, and associations in Europe. The Economist Magazine's Global Technology Forum offers a contact list of European-based consultants, financial institutions, and legal advisers who specialize in doing business in Europe. The World Bank website offers bidding opportunities for their sponsored projects in Europe.
Use U.S. government services to find trade partners and business organizations based in EuropeThe United States Department of Commerce offers a business partner matching service, contact information for non-U.S. government-affiliated European trade specialists, and EU member government-sponsored project tenders available for American companies.
: The U.S. Commercial Service's Gold Key Matching Service matches U.S. businesses with European business partners, distributors, overseas agents, and sales representatives. You can also search for associations in a business directory that includes contact information for EU trade specialists and companies within your specific trade sector. The Commercial Service website also offers a country-specific search engine for public tenders or calls for bids on specific European government or bank-sponsored projects that are open to American companies
- For American businesses, exact market entry strategies for the European free trade association must still be evaluated on a country-by-country basis.
- Note that there are grants and business financing opportunities for American companies offered by European organizations.
- Join the American Chamber of Commerce for the European Union for legal protections and product promotion help when dealing with business associations in Europe.