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Euro Info Centres

Network of information and advisory centres for enterprises


Official title

"Euro Info Centre Network"


Legal references

Euro Info Centres Enterprise (working document) COM (87) 152 final of 7/4/87.
Report of the Commission to the Council on the achievement of the objectives of the Programme of Actions for SMEs - COM (87) 238 final of 23/6/87 - COM (88) 64 final.
Euro Info Centres - extension of project - Communication of the Commission - COM (88) 161 final of 30/3/88.
Multi-annual programme in favour of SMEs (1997-2000). Com (96) 98 final of 20.03.1996
Communication from the Commission : Challenges for enterprise policy in the knowledge-driven economy Proposal for a Council Decision on a multiannual Programme for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship (2001-2005)Document COM(2000)256 final of 26.04.2000

 

Objectives

As part of the measures to favour the growth and competitiveness of enterprises, the Euro Info Centre network was set up in 1987 by the European Commission.

Its creation is linked to a double observation:

  • the importance of SMEs in the economic activity of the European Union;
  • the existence of obstacles to their development in the single market.
European-oriented information centres, the Euro Info Centres (EICs), are the natural partners of small and medium-sized enterprises wanting to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the large European market. Organized in a network, they are present in all Member States; their dynamic and decentralized approach makes it possible to meet in an adapted manner the needs expressed by SMEs. The network currently covers 37 countries and comprises 273 EICs with 53 EICs in EEA countries and CEEC pre-accession countries and 12 Correspondence Centres (EICCs) in other European and Mediterranean countries. The latter are set up in priority areas defined by the Council, notably the Mediterranean basin. The EICCs act as a link between European SMEs and the SMEs of third countries.
In addition, 41 European or National professional organisations participate in the network as associated members.

The mission of Euro Info Centres is to:

  • inform enterprises by offering them expertise on Community matters and target information;
  • assist SMEs by having them benefit from the regular contacts that EICs have with the European Commission and the network as a whole;
  • advise the enterprises in their activities abroad by providing know-how before and after the project;
  • provide feedback to the European Commission on the concerns and interests of SMEs and on the impact of programmes and legislation.

Beneficiaries

The SMEs of the countries where EICs are implemented


Eligible areas
EIC: the entire Union, Iceland and Norway as part of the European Economic Area and CEEC pre-adhesion countries.
EICC: third countries which so request.


Operators

Euro Info Centres have been established in various host structures selected in close collaboration between their national authorities and the European Commission. Chambers of Commerce, regional development organizations, professional and interprofessional associations, industrial associations, chambers of trades and crafts, banks, etc. - this diversity constitutes the network's strength. Because each member has access to the expertise of the others, exchanges of experience enable most economic sectors to be covered. The strength of the EIC network is essentially based on contacts. To ensure their mission of support for SMEs, the Euro Info Centres maintain close relations with their many partners.


Nature of activities

The services provided by the EICs are a matter of priority for small and medium-sized enterprises. There are three main types:

1. Dissemination of information

  • targeted dissemination of information and information watches on European programmes;
  • seminars and conferences adapted to the regional economic fabric of enterprises;
  • searches on European regulations (adopted or being adopted) and on legal or economic data in Member States;
  • availability of general information: articles, newsletters, electronic mail, databases, various publications, etc.
2. Assistance-advisory services
  • preparation of offers;
  • funding research
  • implementation of European policies such as the euro or standardisation
  • contact with institutions in target countries;
  • access to European public contracts.
3. Organization of partnerships between SMEs
  • Enterprise and Europartenariat events;
  • international cooperation missions;
  • assistance for SMEs in their search for partners in other countries.

Rural dimension

As organizations supporting SMEs, LEADER II local action groups and community operators are among the potential beneficiaries of the EIC action.


European Union financial support

The Euro Info Centre network is an initiative of the European Union supported by the Enterprise Directorate General (DG ENTR) of the European Commission - Directorate B: Promotion of Entrepreneurship and SMEs.
Each EIC is linked by a contract signed by its host structure and DGENTR. This contract defines:

  • the EIC's mission;
  • its obligations which include submitting information on its activities via an electronic reporting mechanism and an annual financial statement;
  • its access to DG ENTR's support services such as training, information services, documentation and technical support.

The EICs receive an annual financial contribution of EUR 25,000 from DG ENTR whose payment is made conditional on the scrupulous observance of the contractual obligations.
DG ENTR has also made available to the network's members a computer system (electronic mail, transfer of files, conferences) which links them to one another.
In addition, it stimulates the network effect during various events (working groups, training sessions, monitoring, annual conference).
Finally the EICs have developed specializations with the support of DG ENTR and the DGs concerned. Working groups have been set up to carry out joint activities, to provide services to the EIC network such as decentralised training and to provide feedback to the Commission in various fields, public procurement, Information society and electronic commerce, R&D, external relations, environment, etc. These groups also provide a forum for preparing specialised and targeted information products for SMEs.


Communication means

  • Publications (web sites, info sheets, brochures, questionnaires) aimed at encouraging local enterprises to become interested in European topics (all Community languages).
  • Newsletter "Entreprise Europe", available in the 11 Community langauges, in PDF format on : http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/library/library.htm

More information on the EIC network's geographical coverage, organisation, tasks, expertise and activities can be found under the following addresses:
http://ec.europa.eu/dg23/bus_info/eic/eic.htm

The Internet site Dialogue with Business contains information for businesses on the single market and the EU. It also provides you with an email link to the EIC of your choice:
http://europa.eu.int/business/en/advice/eics/index.htm

 

Information offices or additional sources of information

European Commission
Mr Jacques McMillan
DG XXIII / B2
Rue de la Loi, 200 (SC-27 3/046)
B-1049 Brussels
F.: + 32 2 295 5540


last update: 07/00


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