When in 1968 „Handelsverein“ or Trade Association was founded in Bremen in northern Germany, its mission was to facilitate business for West-German firms with COMECON countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The Association later relocated to Hamburg. Building on these foundations and the existing members of Handelsverein, German business leaders took the initiative to form the Eastern Europe Business Association in November 1989, immediately following the opening of the Berlin Wall.
From the outset the Association had its registered office in both Berlin and Hamburg, and continues to have offices in both cities to this day. Henner Geldmacher, then member of the board at ThyssenKrupp, was elected as its first President; today he is an honorary member of the board of the Association. He was followed as President by Dr Manfred Busche, then Chairman of Berlin Messe, and by Claus Zoellner, Chairman and controlling shareholder of Accumulatorenwerke Hoppecke Carl Zoellner & Sohn.
The Association later changed its name to Central & Eastern Europe Association (Ost- und Mitteleuropa Verein or OMV), before returning to its original name in 2014. Early on its main focus was to create business-to-business contacts and practical exchange between the business communities in Germany and the countries of the region. The Association was the first organisation to bring German business leaders to then recently formed countries such as Moldova, Tadjikistan, and Kosovo, among others.
Throughout its history, the Association has hosted events attended by presidents, prime ministers, ministers and ambassadors of Germany and of the partner countries.