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International affairs

Current activities

Horizontal activities

One of the main activities of DG Enterprise and Industry in the area of enterprise policy in the period 2003-2009 was helping Western Balkans in implementing the European Charter for Small Enterprises. This included an annual reporting and monitoring exercise around ten policy guidelines for SME policy which the countries and entities set out to implement. In all of the capitals, bilateral meetings were organised with SME policy stakeholders during which the implementation of the Charter was scrutinised. Between 2003 and 2005, Western Balkans used the same reporting system as the Member States did. In the recent Commission's Communication on the Western Balkans pdf български (bg) czech (cs) dansk (da) Deutsch (de) eesti (et) ελληνικά (el) español (es) Français (fr) Gaeilge (ga) hrvatski (hr) italiano (it) latviešu (lv) lietuvių (lt) magyar (hu) Malti (mt) Nederlands (nl) polski (pl) português (pt) română (ro) slovenčina (sk) slovenščina (sl) suomi (fi) svenska (sv) the Charter process was prolonged for another three years 2006-2008. That phase of Charter implementation was characterised by a multi-agency approach of the EC, OECD, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Training Foundation (ETF) which issued joint annual reports. Measuring of progress in the different countries and entities was streamlined and upgraded through the introduction of a special measurement instrument, the SME Index, jointly developed by the Commission, OECD, EBRD and ETF.

The first joint report of the four organisations on the Charter implementation pdf - 1022 KB [1022 KB] was published in spring 2007.

The 2009 Report on Progress in the Implementation of the European Charter for Small Enterprises in the Western Balkans pdf - 4 MB [4 MB] signalled the completion of the process started in 2003, with the adoption of the Charter by the Western Balkans, and marked by the decision taken in 2006 by the European Commission, OECD and the Western Balkan governments, to launch a regional comparative monitoring process in the partners from the Western Balkans. A specific monitoring tool, the SME Policy Index, was then developed by the European Commission, the European Training Foundation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the OECD, together with the National Charter coordinators. The monitoring process has allowed governments to identify strong and weak points in policy elaboration and implementation, to compare experiences and performance, to set priorities and to measure the convergence towards implementation of the policy guidelines promoted by the Charter. A first report on the Charter implementation was published in 2007.

The 2009 Report was launched with the occasion of the High-level Conference on the implementation of the European Charter for Small Enterprises in the Western Balkans, which took place on 17-18 June 2009 in Brussels and was attended by approximately 120 participants from policy and business environments.  Vice-President Verheugen opened the event by congratulating the partners from the Westerns Balkans for the progress achieved and encouraged them to continue on the same path.

In 2011, DG Enterprise and Industry launched a new assessment process, this time using the "Small Business Act" for Europe pdf български (bg) czech (cs) dansk (da) Deutsch (de) eesti (et) ελληνικά (el) español (es) Français (fr) Gaeilge (ga) hrvatski (hr) italiano (it) latviešu (lv) lietuvių (lt) magyar (hu) Malti (mt) Nederlands (nl) polski (pl) português (pt) română (ro) slovenčina (sk) slovenščina (sl) suomi (fi) svenska (sv) (SBA) as a reference document. Turkey has joined the Western Balkans Group for this new process. The report was published in October 2012. A new cycle was launched on 1st October 2014.

As an off-spring of the Charter process, DG Enterprise and Industry worked closely with the countries and the ETF to help establish the South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, which acts as a resource, networking and expertise centre to help develop entrepreneurship education and training in the wider region. The Croatian Chamber of Commerce is hosting the centre for the moment.

Moreover, candidate countries and potential candidates, as of 2007,  joined the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme which ran by DG Enterprise and Industry until 2013. Turkey, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Serbia have joined one or more pillars of the programme.

The successor programme, COSME (Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises has started in 2014 and will run until 2020. Montenegro signed the Agreement for participation on 24 June 2014, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on 29 September, Turkey on 16 October and Serbia and Albania should follow.

In the area of free movement of goods, DG Enterprise and Industry monitors the adoption of EC product legislation and the development of appropriate infrastructures in the countries concerned and does the necessary preparatory work for the PECA/ACAA Agreements as well as the necessary input into the Customs Union with Turkey.

Sectoral policies

In various areas of DG Enterprise and Industry, sectoral units have set in place activities to help restructure industrial sectors which require further boost to ensure competitiveness on European and international markets. In areas such as the steel industry, shipbuilding and others DG Enterprise and Industry helps governments to take the necessary steps.

Where the restructuring of the steel industry is concerned, DG Enterprise and Industry assist the countries on the definition and implementation of their sectoral restructuring policies, based on the relevant protocols of the Stabilisation and Association Agreements, the aim of which is to limit state aid and to boost competitiveness.


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