Eastern Partnership

Eastern Partnership

The Eastern Partnership aims to deepen political exchange and economic integration between the EU and Eastern European partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine). The Directorate-General (DG) for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs is in charge of Platform 2 of the Partnership which deals with economic integration and convergence with EU policies, the SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) Panel and the Trade Panel on Technical Regulations and Standardisation.

The Eastern Partnership

The Eastern Partnership was launched in 2009. It is an effort by the EU and its Eastern European partners to help promote political and economic reforms, and support efforts of the countries in the region to move closer to the EU. At its basis lies a shared commitment to international law and fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as to market economy, sustainable development and good governance. It is part of the EU Neighbourhood Policy.

The Eastern Partnership works through bilateral and multilateral tracks. Four thematic Platforms which meet twice a year are the main tool of the multilateral track.

Platform 2: Economic integration and convergence with EU policies

DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs coordinates and chairs Platform 2, which is the broadest platform covering many sectorial policies. The policies and planned activities are set out in the Work Programme (2014-2017) and include:

  • enterprise and SME policies;
  • trade and trade-related regulatory cooperation linked to Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTAs);
  • cooperation in the field of transport;
  • environment and climate change;
  • agriculture and rural development;
  • statistics;
  • cooperation in the field of taxation and public finances;
  • labour market and social policies;
  • cooperation in questions of macroeconomic and financial stability;
  • information society and media.

Meetings of the Platform

The twelfth meeting took place on 12 November 2014.

The thirteenth meeting took place on 23 April 2015 in Brussels.

The fourteenth meeting is scheduled for  2 December 2015  in Brussels.

SME Panel

A dedicated SME Panel is part of Platform 2. It was launched in 2010 to support the development of SMEs in partner countries, which is hindered by an inadequate regulatory and policy framework, a lack of advisory services, limited access to finance and a lack of interregional and international networking mechanisms.

One of the key issues the SME Panel deals with is the assessment of policies in Eastern European partner countries based on the Small Business Act (SBA) for Europe. The Panel is also the umbrella for the SME Flagship Initiative with a dedicated SME Flagship Strategy for the period 2014 to 2020.

The Panel is particularly directed towards government officials, the appointed SBA coordinators of the partner countries, and business and SME associations.

Support is offered on three levels:

  1. At policy level, the EU works with the OECD and other organisations to assist Eastern European partner countries in drawing up effective SME policies. This is done through the SBA Assessment and the implementation of the recommendations of the assessment. The EU also co-finances a project of the World Bank (STAREP) which aims to improve financial reporting in partner countries.
  2. For business support organisations the EU has initiated a vast networking programme - East Invest. The East Invest programme aims to promote trade and investment through networking and consolidation of business and SME associations in the Eastern partner region. So far more than 80 support organisations have participated in the programme.
  3. To support SMEs directly and provide them with better access to finance a wide range of programmes involving European Financial Institutions (the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank and German development bank KfW) have been developed under the umbrella of the Neighbourhood Investment Facility. Additionally, the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) Facility for SMEs has been established for the three countries which have signed a DCFTA or an Association Agreement (AA) with the EU. The DCFTA Facility has the purpose to support SMEs in order for them to be able to:
    • finance necessary investments to comply with the provisions of the DCFTA;
    • seize trade opportunities with the EU and within the region which have been opened up due to the DCFTA;
    • benefit from the inflow of foreign direct investment.

Trade Panel on Technical Regulations and Standardisation

Within the framework of Platform 2, DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs also organises annual Panels on subjects related to the reform of technical regulation systems. These meetings are an integral part of the Eastern Partnership's Trade Panel and focus on:

  • standardisation to support technical regulations;
  • market surveillance requirements and infrastructure;
  • reform of the regulatory system and related infrastructure in the areas of market surveillance, metrology, standardisation and conformity assessment.

These meetings provide information on the development of EU policies. They also allow for an exchange of information and best practices between EU countries and Eastern European partner countries on dedicated questions of the reform agenda.

The fourteenth Trade Panel will take place in autumn 2015.

More information