In a bid to help businesses access foreign markets, the European Commission is organising a number of missions to fast growing countries.
Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship, and the Director General of DG Enterprise and Industry Daniel Calleja Crespo - who is also Europe's Small Business Envoy - are currently visiting growth regions in the world to help EU enterprises better profit from fast growing emerging markets, such as those in China, South East Asia and Latin America.
Accompanied by business delegations composed of forty to fifty representatives of European companies and industry associations, the visits aim to:
Antonio Tajani underlined: "With the missions for growth we contribute to creating the conditions for win-win situations. European companies benefit from easier access to external markets while local actors and authorities have a concrete chance to lure foreign investment.
Mr Calleja added: "There is a direct link between internationalization and increased SME performance. International activities reinforce growth, enhance competitiveness and support the long term sustainability of companies. Yet European SMEs still depend largely on their domestic markets, despite the opportunities brought by the enlarged single market and by globalization at large."
Typical issues being discussed during visits include enhanced co-operation in the following areas:
Reduction of SME administrative burden via closer co-operation
The aims are to improve the business environment, promote entrepreneurship and help partner countries and European SMEs grow, do business together and compete in the global economy. Such cooperation usually identifies the main obstacles in the regulatory and administrative environment for SMEs, as well as finding appropriate solutions to overcome them.
Standardisation - Removing technical barriers to trade
The objective here is to remove technical barriers to trade, improve economic, scientific and technical relations, ensure the compatibility and interoperability of supplied products and to work towards:
Discussions have already led to concrete results, such as the successful EU China standard web portal CESIP (see page ..). Moreover, options for reinforced co-operation on intellectual property rights (IPR) are also being discussed.
Raw materials - Supply of raw materials to downstream industries
The EU and fast growing emerging economies should strive to provide a comprehensive response to questions linked to the supply of raw materials to downstream industries. They should also cooperate to ensure the sustainability and long-term competitiveness of the phosphate rock industry — due to the presence of cadmium and other heavy metals in the phosphate rock being used as an input material for the production of food additives, feed additives and fertilisers. This should help limit risks to human health and the environment. Communication channels should also be established to strengthen information exchange. For example, a dialogue will also be conducted as part of the EU-Tunisia Action Plan on European Neighbourhood Policy, to promote mutual understanding, enhance bilateral cooperation and the exchange of information on raw materials and mining policies.
Co-operation in tourism policy
The aim here is to establish consultation mechanisms to promote cooperation and a common understanding of tourism issues. This could be achieved by holding regular dialogue between senior officials and exchanging best practices on subjects of mutual interest, such as sectorial economic growth and job creation, sustainable development and reinforcement of socio-economic knowledge.
Satellite services – Co-operation on satellite-based augmentation services
The EU satellite navigation system Galileo, the earth observation for environment and security programme GMES, as well the satellite-based augmentation EGNOS also offer options for reinforced cooperation with partner countries.
In order to explore and take advantage of these possibilities, Vice-President Tajani visited Morocco and Tunisia at the end of November 2012. Mid November he visited Egypt accompanied by the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton. In May 2012, Tajani chaired a delegation of EU businessmen in Mexico and Colombia. In 2013 he will go to Peru, Chile, Russia, China and India.
In 2013, SME Envoy Daniel Calleja will further develop and deepen the agreements made by Vice-President Tajani during recent Missions for Growth, namely by revisiting Mexico and Colombia in April 2013.
High power photovoltaic power generation in mining sector in Chile
A concrete result of a 2012 'mission for growth' was cooperation between a French-German company and Chile. The EU company is now deploying its high energy efficient photovoltaic power stations (which are more than twice as efficient as current Asian models) in Chile's mining sector, which is taking advantage of Chile's natural resource of strong direct sunlight. The first solar power plant in the El Tesoro mine in northern Chile will start to deliver electricity in January 2013.