At the Eastern Partnership Business Forum in Riga today, the European Commission launched the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) Facility for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The Facility will provide some €200 million worth of grants from the EU budget over the next 10 years. This contribution is expected to unlock new investments worth at least €2 billion for the SMEs in the three DCFTA countries: Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. The financial means for the investments will be largely coming from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
"The European Commission promised concrete steps to boost trade and the exchange between the Union and our Eastern partners. Today we are delivering. The Association Agreements and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas work. They are the right avenue for bringing the economies of Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine closer to the EU and to our internal market. The €2 billion are an investment to make these economies more competitive and an investment into local companies that will create more jobs for the population. They are a sign of the EU's strong commitment to further deepen our cooperation with our Eastern partners", said the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.
"Small businesses are vital for modern economies, being the main driver for growth and jobs. The new Facility will give tangible support to businesses in Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, unlocking their potential, helping them realise the benefits of the Association Agreements and reach new markets. This is a concrete example of the EU's commitment to Eastern Partnership and of our determination to build closer economic relations with the partner countries", said Commissioner for European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn.
Lack of liquidity is one of the major problems of SMEs. Securing funding for necessary investments, the DCFTA Facility for SMEs will help businesses seize new trade opportunities with the EU and within the region. It will help SMEs to take advantage of increased foreign direct investment, and to comply with EU product standards and environmental protection measures.
The DCFTA Facility for SMEs is an integral part of the SME Flagship Initiative – a wide-ranging EU action supporting SMEs in the whole Eastern Partnership (EaP) region since 2009.
The Facility complements EU bilateral programmes that support structural reforms in each EaP country, help small businesses grow and prepare for market opportunities of the DCFTA, and help national authorities to implement the agreements.
The DCFTA Facility consists of a set of joint programmes – implemented by the EBRD and EIB – offering support to lower the risk for financial institutions of lending to SMEs, make local currency lending accessible, reduce the cost of investment for SMEs and provide them with business advisory services to make the most of the opportunities opened by the DCFTA.
For more information
Memo on DCFTA facility:
Website of DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement negotiations: