Brussels, 1 July 2013
New funding to support businesses in the Eastern Partnership countries
The European Commission has adopted today a programme to support Small and Medium Sized enterprises (SMEs) and trade opportunities in the countries of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) region.
“Our Eastern neighbours have been hit hard by the economic crisis. Small and medium sized enterprises can play a key role in generating jobs and economic growth because they respond quickly to opportunities created by the market. It is therefore our crucial task to support small businesses in the Eastern Partnership region”, said Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle.
As one of the flagship initiatives of the Eastern Partnership, the programme covers following activities:
The overall value of the new business support programme for the Eastern Partnership countries is €10 million and the project is expected to start in the second half of this year.
Under the first East Investment project more than 100 representatives of Business Associations and 200 representatives of SMEs have been trained. Furthermore more than 150 SMEs from the region are participating at European Trade fairs, while investment conferences are being organised in each of the 6 EaP counties to attract European investors and trade partners to the region.
SMEs are a key driver of economic growth and employment. They play an increasingly important role in the transition towards dynamic market-driven economies. Although the contribution of SMEs to employment in the Eastern Partnership countries is about 50% this is still rather low compared to the EU where 2 out of 3 jobs are created by SMEs.
The funding comes from the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). This is the main financial and cooperation instrument though which the assistance is given to the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries and Russia. The Eastern Partnership countries are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The Eastern Partnership was launched in 2009 at the Prague summit aiming to accelerate political association and economic integration between the EU and its eastern neighbours. Under the Eastern Partnership four platforms and several panels have been established through which progress is being discussed. This SME programme forms part of the SME Flagship under the Eastern Partnership.
For more information
Eastern Partnership and regional cooperation in the East:
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre:
Small Business Act