Brussels, 27 June 2008
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Albania is the fifth country of the group of EU candidate and potential candidate countries to join an important part of the EU's Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) Under the CIP, the European Commission promotes innovation, entrepreneurship and growth in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Today, European Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen and Mr Genc Ruli, Minister for Economy, Trade and Energy of the Republic of Albania, signed a Memorandum of Understanding formalising the Republic’s entry to the EIP, the entrepreneurship and innovation pillar of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP).
Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy said: “We are creating a win-win situation for Albania and for the EU. The decision of Albania to join the CIP confirms the European aspirations of Albania and the progress already achieved. We also share the understanding that the challenges of today's global world are best faced by integration and ever closer co-operation.”
Albania will be able to take part in the framework of the European Charter for Small Enterprises by making direct ties with EU Member States and learning from good practice in promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in all its various forms. This will strengthen Albania's own policy and delivery capability for the benefit of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). Albanian policy stakeholders and experts can now join the relevant policy groups which the European Commission will set up under CIP to assist to develop an SME friendly policy, which is key to achieve sustainable growth and more and better employment opportunities. It is another step to bring Albania, which has an EU Membership perspective closer to the EU. It will benefit Albanian SMEs as it will benefit those SMEs from the EU with business ties to Albania, to develop together.
The backbone of the Albanian economy is formed by the large and expanding sector of small companies. The groundwork on developing a favourable regulatory framework for SME’s has made substantial progress through Albania’s participation, since 2003, in the European Charter for Small Enterprises process.
The following EU candidate and potential candidate countries have already joined the CIP:
Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in October 2007, followed by Turkey in February 2008 and by Montenegro in March 2008.
A long-term view demands that the Commission works very closely with all candidate and potential candidate countries.