Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Eastern Partnership

Eastern Partnership

The Eastern Partnership aims to deepen political and economic relations between the EU and Eastern partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine). The Directorate-General (DG) for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs co-chairs Platform 2 of the partnership which deals with economic development and market opportunities, with a strong commitment to cover SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), technical regulations and standardisation.

The Eastern Partnership (EaP) was launched in 2009. It is a joint project 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. It is part of the EU Neighbourhood Policy and works through bilateral and multilateral tracks.

Bilateral work

High-level industrial and regulatory dialogue between the EU and Ukraine

Held in March 2017, the first high-level industrial and regulatory dialogue (HLID) brought together Ukraine's Ministry of Economy Development and Trade and Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. It covered SMEs, space, the automotive sector, textiles and clothing, engineering, technical barriers to trade and public procurement. A high-level industrial roadmap was agreed by the 2 parties aiming to ease business exchanges between the EU and Ukraine, and facilitate Ukraine's alignment with EU regulatory and technical requirements. The second HLID is scheduled for March 2018 in Kyiv.

Subcommittees with Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine (Association Agreements)

Annual subcommittees with 3 Eastern Partners are held to deepen sectorial cooperation. At these subcommittees, we discuss policy priorities and exchange information on several industrial issues such as industrial policy, SMEs, tourism and raw materials. This bilateral track complements the multilateral track followed through Platform 2 with all 6 Eastern Partners.

The COSME programme

3 Eastern Partners (Ukraine, Armenia and Moldova) participate in the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) programme. These countries benefit from their inclusion in the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) and build consortia to participate in specific calls for grants with other partner or EU countries. These 3 countries are not participating in the financial instrument part of the programme. For more information see, Third countries' participation in COSME.

Multilateral work

Platform 2: Economic development and market opportunities 

This DG coordinates and co-chairs Platform 2. The objectives of the platform are set out in the '20 deliverables for 2020' and include: 

  • structural reforms
  • financial sector architecture
  • enterprise and SME policies
  • agriculture and rural development
  • trade and trade-related regulatory cooperation
  • harmonising digital markets

Panel on structural reforms, financial sector architecture, agriculture and SMEs

At a summit held in Brussels in November 2017 a new organisation was adopted that included the creation of this panel. It aims to develop a favourable business environment for SMEs in Partner Countries with concrete objectives. Some of the targets set out for 2020 are:

  • EaP countries should improve their scores on a 2019 OECD Small Business Act assessment by 10% (as compared to 2015) for the following:
    • regulatory framework
    • operational environment
    • support to SMEs
  • 150 client-oriented business support organisations should provide their SME members with business development services, in particular in relation to the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) requirements, as well as global market requirements
  • 10,000 additional SMEs should benefit from EU assistance (with 80% in the DCFTA countries)
  • at least another 60,000 jobs should be created and/or sustained since mid-2016

The panel will assess the progress made at least once a year according to the objectives set out in the 20 deliverables for 2020 roadmap in the presence of experts from the EU, international financial institutions and Partner Countries.

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 provide information on the development of EU policies, while allowing for the exchange of information and best practice between EU countries and Eastern European partner countries on dedicated questions of the reform agenda, namely:

  • 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


The EU4Business initiative gathers all EU support to SMEs in the EaP region under one umbrella, addressing the different aspects that are central for creating business opportunities and jobs: the design and implementation of sound SME policies, the promotion of public-private dialogue, and the improvement of services provided by business support organisations to their members, as well as increased access to new markets and improved conditions to access finance. For the latter, €200 million of grants from the EU budget will unlock at least €2 billion of new investments, notably in the DCFTA countries. 

While by 2015 there were 17 ongoing projects with an EU commitment of €198 million, in 2017 there were more than 30 projects corresponding to a financial commitment of about 330 million. Since the start of our EU programmes in 2009: almost 100,000 enterprises have received 190,000 sub-loans for a total value of €1.5 billion; more than 93,000 jobs have been supported by business advice projects, and the initiative has created more than 10,000 new jobs.

More information