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Missions for Growth: Guidelines


In his role of Commissioner responsible for industry and entrepreneurship, Ferdinando Nelli Feroci wants to ensure that European Industry and enterprises come out of the current economic crisis stronger and more competitive than before.

In that sense, helping EU companies and in particular SMEs to develop their activities within the EU and abroad and in parallel reinforcing industrial relations and strengthening the links of Enterprise policies with third countries is vital. For this reason, Commissioner Nelli Feroci will continue organising Missions for Growth in European and third countries initiated by Vice-President Tajani. Through these missions, Europe can also better promote its policies.

These missions involve political and business meetings and discussions in areas of mutual interest in the fields of Enterprise & Industry policy but do not deal with specific trade policy issues. They allow for high-level contacts between the Commissioner responsible for industry, the European External Action Service (EEAS), European entrepreneurs and political authorities.

Missions for Growth led by the Commissioner are followed by missions led by the European SME Envoy, Mr Daniel Calleja Crespo, and concentrate specifically on SMEs.


To strengthen cooperation between EU and other countries and regions of the world by combining political meetings with a business dimension (door-opening/prepare steps to match-finding) on Enterprise and Industry policy issues.

To enhance cooperation in areas of mutual interest of Enterprise & Industry Policy (through signature of political documents in various sectors such as industrial cooperation, innovation, standardisation, clusters, entrepreneurship, raw materials, SMEs, space, tourism).

To better understand the business climate in other countries and regions of the world, promote business/investments there – seen through the lenses of European business, EU officials get a better understanding of business environment in other countries.

To promote the internationalisation of European companies, including SMEs.

To show and promote Europe as an investment opportunity for business: the external marketing of Europe’s internal market.

How is it done ?

Mission destinations are planned in co-operation with European business federations and the diplomatic channels of the countries concerned. A date and location in the country is agreed, often linking up to existing events (business fairs, international conferences, etc). Sometimes a focus on specific industrial sectors is agreed.

European companies are informed of these missions through a dedicated European Commission's website, the European Enterprise Network, by industrial federations, Member States' Embassies and by EU delegations and representations. The participation is open to all interested businesses bearing their own costs (travel and accommodation expenses).

The Commission tries to ensure a balanced EU business delegation, and in particular:

  • Appropriate representation of the company and business associations.
  • Good geographical spread in terms of which Member States are represented on the EU business delegation – it is however not ensured that at every mission all 28 Member States are represented
  • The spread between SME’s and larger companies.
  • The balance between newcomers on the market and existing investors who may wish to expand (the role of these companies is particularly worthwhile in the bilateral meetings with third country political representatives since such companies can inform the policy makers about their experiences with the local business climate).
  • Companies pay their own costs (travel and accommodation) and make their own travel arrangements. The Commission’s role is often to secure group bookings in hotels and to co-ordinate local transport facilities. Third countries can offer items as B2B networking lunches or business cocktails.

Difference between EU and national economic missions

Presence of the Commissioner responsible for industry and entrepreneurship  allows high level meetings in third countries (not always national missions can get that) and aims at supporting all the 28 Member States.

Missions for Growth complement national economic missions and contribute to ensuring the external marketing of European internal market. While the role of national authorities remains essential in facilitating companies exporting abroad, Commissioner-led missions allow the Europe-wide representation of industrial sectors in one mission which no individual state could offer.

Missions targeting sectors allow to prospect for potential for investment/promotion of industrial cooperation for companies from all over the EU.

They allow explaining and informing about key European programmes (security, Galileo, European standards, etc).

The external dimension of EU’s internal market: many third countries consider “Europe” as a destination of their business activity and, in their business plans and decisions, reflect on Europe-wide implications and (dis)advantages of investment in one or more of the 28 EU Member States.

Main elements of a typical Mission for Growth

A successful programme of a Mission for Growth is composed of four main elements:

1. European team building / warming-up meeting

The mission usually starts with a meeting (usually informal – dinner, reception) of the Commissioner responsible for industry and entrepreneurship with the companies. After all, since delegates travel from many parts of the EU a first direct contact has not yet taken place. The idea is to get to know each other and to start the mission as a "European team". Such meetings are usually hosted by the EU Ambassador in the visited country, to which the Ambassadors of EU Member States are also invited.

2. Political meetings and signature of letters of intent

The Commissioner meets with Ministers – and often Prime Ministers or Presidents - of the authorities of the visited country responsible for portfolios related to Enterprise & Industry policies. In order to enhance cooperation in areas of mutual interest, some political documents of non-binding nature can be signed (in sectors such as industrial cooperation, innovation, standardisation, clusters, entrepreneurship, raw materials, SMEs, space, tourism). We do the maximum to ensure that European companies participate in these meetings, so that they can raise issues directly with the Ministers.

3. B2B meetings for European companies and companies of the visited country

European companies accompanying the Commissioner have a possibility to participate in a matchmaking event with companies of the visited country. The event can be organised separately or linked to another business event already taking place at the same moment (trade fairs, exhibitions, conferences). The registration tool and website for the B2B is provided by the Enterprise Europe Network. The size of the European business delegation varies from ca. 50 to ca. 150 participants and is constituted of the representatives of companies of all sizes, representatives of European and national business associations and sectorial federations. Sometimes a focus on specific industrial sector is agreed.

There is also a possibility to do an alternative light B2B meeting in the form of a standing two-hours meeting with delegates wearing "sector" identification badges. In some missions, C2C meetings were organised: cluster-to-cluster.

4. Information about the business environment of the visited country

Business representatives accompanying the Commissioner are usually interested in opening or strengthening relations with the visited country. Thanks to presentations and exchanges about the business environment in the country, European companies and EU officials can get a better understanding of the regulatory environment, business opportunities and new market developments. This is usually done in the form of an information seminar, where business organisations of the country as well as European companies already present in the country, pass on their experiences.

5. Thematic visits

Business representatives accompanying the Commissioner might be interested in seeing concrete business development projects in the visited country which offer a "clear and present" opportunity to get involved at a short or medium term. It can be an occasion for the host country to present an industrial park, a business cluster or any other business area looking for foreign investments and cooperation with European companies. This would enable business representatives to initiate first contacts and ask concrete and specific questions.

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