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Support to businesses
In order to help European businesses to flourish, the European Union (EU) makes various specialised support services available to them. These services offer businesses useful information and advice, at local level, when they are being set up and throughout the various stages of their development. This assistance can be helpful, particularly to new businesses, for better understanding the EU legislative framework, discovering best practices within the EU and operating successfully.
Enterprise Europe network
The Enterprise Europe Network offers information and tailored services to businesses, thus making a tangible contribution to promoting entrepreneurship and the growth of businesses in Europe.
The network, which is the widest in Europe in terms of its geographical coverage and the range of services offered, provides a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all the information which may be of use to European businesses. It is based on the proximity principle and the ‘no wrong door’ concept: in other words, businesses can contact any partner in the network, which will often be the nearest one, and be individually guided to the most appropriate service.
While the network is mainly targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), larger companies may also receive assistance.
The services of the Enterprise Europe Network include:
- facilitating access to funding by making businesses aware of the available opportunities;
- providing information on the EU policies, programmes and legislation which are relevant to a particular business’s activities;
- settling problems linked to Community standards and intellectual property rights;
- helping businesses to identify trustworthy commercial partners;
- encouraging businesses to become more innovative and helping them to participate in research programmes and form technological partnerships;
- exchanging best practice;
- visiting businesses to assess their needs;
- promotional and information material.
The network operates as a ‘two-way street’, and the Commission uses the feedback regularly received to adapt its policies and initiatives to the needs of European businesses, particularly SMEs, without creating additional red tape.
The Enterprise Europe Network provides a local service throughout the EU and outside its borders thanks to the presence of more than 500 contact points.
The Enterprise Europe Network is a key element of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and brings together the expertise of the former Euro Info Centres (EICs) and Innovation Relay Centres (IRCs).
Your Europe – Business
The ‘Your Europe - Business’ website offers European businesses more direct access to information of relevance to them, particularly by providing details on the provisions in force not only in the European Union but also in each of its Member States.
European portal for SMEs
The European portal for SMEs provides information on all the policies, legislation, programmes and initiatives of relevance to SMEs.
SOLVIT is an on-line problem-solving network. Problems linked to the misapplication by the public authorities of EU internal market rules are solved in a pragmatic manner within ten weeks. Both businesses and European citizens can submit problems to the SOLVIT centres.
EURES – European employment services
EURES services are coordinated by the Commission and facilitate the free movement of workers within the European Economic Area (EEA). The network partners include public employment services, trade unions and employers’ organisations. The aims pursued by the EURES are:
- to inform and advise potentially mobile workers on employment opportunities and living and working conditions in the EEA;
- to help employers who wish to recruit workers from other countries;
- to provide specific advice and vocational guidance to workers and employers in cross-border regions.
In addition to its mobility and employment website, EURES has more than 700 advisers throughout the EEA.
Environment and SMEs
The Environment & SMEs website provides information on the main environmental legislation, best practice, training opportunities, advice and toolkits to help SMEs to respect the environment and put in place sustainable activities. While large businesses have an obvious effect on the environment, the activities of SMEs also have a considerable impact.
The organizations for the promotion of energy technologies network (OPET)
The objective of OPET, a network created by the European Commission, is to promote the potential of new energy technologies and raise awareness of this issue among the public and, in particular, the business community. The network disseminates information on the latest developments, participates in knowledge-sharing and supports the marketing of new technologies. The network thus covers the building sector, renewable energy sources, co‑generation, heating and cooling, hydrocarbons and placing on the market.
Intellectual property rights helpdesk
The Intellectual property rights helpdesk provides general information on these rights, how to protect one’s rights and the usefulness of so doing, and offers assistance on the problems which entrepreneurs can encounter in this area. The helpdesk is particularly aimed at entrepreneurs who participate, or wish to participate, in research and technological development projects.
European consumer centres network
The European consumer centres network is intended to assist European consumers in relation to questions or difficulties which may arise when they purchase goods or services in another Member State.