SMEs in the EaP countries have the potential to make a significant contribution to job creation and to drive economic growth. However they still face challenges which prevent them from realising their full potential. Typical challenges are: limited access to finance, constraints in accessing new markets, constant changes in new, inconsistent and burdensome legislation, lack of relevant skills to grow their businesses and a difficult operational environment encompassing high tax rates, corruption, bureaucracy and political instability.
This is the reason why the SME Flagship initiative was launched in 2009, the umbrella of all EU-funded regional programmes. In 2016, the SME Flagship Initiative was rebranded EU4Business, now also including bilateral assistance projects that directly target SMEs and Business Support Organisations (BSOs).
This is the first EU4Business Consolidated report, published by the EU4Business Secretariat, established to support DG NEAR. The report:
- looks back to the time the EU4Business was launched and reviews its developments over the years.
- offers an analysis of the EU4Business coherence with national SME policy frameworks in the EaP region taking into account progress made in each country.
- reviews EU4Business programmes and projects implemented in the period 2009-2016 and analyses their achievements.
- outlines a way forward for the EU4Business that is rather a ‘food for thought’ than a hard prescription.
The first EU4Business Consolidated Report bases its analysis on EU strategic documents concerning SME support in the EaP countries. It draws data and information from international and national sources and most of all from the six EU4Business Country Reports 2017.
The analysis on achievements is based on reviewing more than 200 programme and project documents, especially progress reports of the implementing partners.
The first EU4Business Consolidated Report can be seen as a living document: as the EU4Business gains more pace, the developments to be monitored and coordinated increase their frequence.