Boosting sustainable economic development and supporting job creation is at the heart of EU’s contribution to stabilising its neighbourhood. This implies helping SMEs – the backbone of the economy – to grow; attracting investments in new sectors, and increasing trade opportunities by supporting access to new markets. That is an essential criteria to create more stability in the region, and establish closer relations with the EU.
As confirmed in a recent Commission report, SMEs are not only key to sustainable economic development, but also an important factor in the consolidation of open societies. Across the region, SMEs account for over 95% of private companies and play an important role as key engines for further economic growth and emplyment. A business enabling environment and a large SME sector prevent economies from becoming dominated by few entities and thus impede concentration of power in the hands of oligarchs hindering a country’s development in both economic and political terms.
In the past years the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus*, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – have achieved significant progress in reforming their economies and integrating into global market place. Since 2010 overall business climate in the EaP countries has improved, and EaP countries as a whole made substantial efforts to encourage the growth of their Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs).
This project is organised on a sectoral basis. This allows for a more strategic approach, targeting the specific needs and opportunities of each sector, and allow for the creation of alliances between EU and EaP businesses on a sectoral – and therefore more specific – basis.
The sectors/areas are the following:
- Bio-/ Organic food
- Creative Industries
* In line with the Council Conclusions of 12 October 2020 and in light of Belarus’ involvement in the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, recognised in the European Council Conclusions of February 2022, the EU has stopped engaging with representatives of Belarus public bodies and state-owned enterprises. Should there be a change of the context this may be reconsidered. In the meantime, the EU continues to engage with and, where possible, has stepped up support to non-state, local and regional actors, including within the framework of this … (e.g.,. bilateral/regional programme, action, project) as appropriate.