International activities

International activities

The Directorate-General (DG) for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs helps the internationalisation of European businesses and their competitiveness in order to generate growth and jobs.

Ensuring a level playing field for EU businesses

DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs works to ensure a fair and level playing field for European businesses so that they can exploit opportunities in non-EU markets.

Trade negotiations

DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs is involved in international trade negotiations at multilateral (World Trade Organization) and bilateral level (negotiations for Free Trade Agreements and Economic Partnership Agreements).

Cooperation with governments

DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs coordinates and organises regulatory and industrial policy dialogues with many of the EU's strategic partners. This important activity aims to achieve a greater convergence of the rules affecting global business, reducing barriers and costs and making it easier for European companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to do business on an international scale. The dialogues cover issues such as standards, conformity assessment and innovation, and certain industry sectors, including space.

Cooperation with regions and international bodies

DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs promotes industrial cooperation, SMEs, entrepreneurship and inclusive sustainable development with Mediterranean and Eastern neighbour countries as part of the European Neighbourhood Policy. DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs also works with the Latin American region on initiatives that primarily target small businesses and with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) on issues including entrepreneurship, space policy and tourism.

Supporting the internationalisation of EU businesses

Statistics on internationalisation show that only 13% of Europe’s SMEs are exporting beyond EU borders. By comparison, 25% of SMEs are active in the internal market. As most future global economic growth is expected to take place in developing and emerging markets, European companies need to build economic relations and interact with markets in non-EU countries.

DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs aims to support businesses, particularly SMEs, in their expansion outside the EU. This is done by:

  • putting in place various EU instruments as the external dimension of several EU policies grows in importance and access to markets outside the EU is essential for European industry. These instruments have been put in place in the framework of several EU programmes such as COSME, ICI, ICI+, the Partnership instrument, the European Neighborhood Instrument, Horizon 2020, Structural and Investment Funds, etc. The overview of EU Instruments contributing to the Internationalisation of European Businesses was created to help improve the knowledge of potential business internationalisation stakeholders on funding possibilities and existing instruments (both direct and indirect)

  • seeking to improve the business climate in non-EU countries by ensuring a level playing field for businesses (see above)

SME Internationalisation beyond the EU

Other actions

Enlarging the EU

DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs contributes to the enlargement process by defining policy priorities related to its portfolio for the countries who want to join the EU.

Enlarging the EU

Europe 2020

DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs also ensures that enterprise interests and expertise are taken into account in the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy for growth.

DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs also:

  • promotes the EU as an attractive destination:
    • for investment
    • in which to conduct business
    • for tourism
  • aims to develop the mobility of talent and the workforce
  • promotes internal market rules and international standards abroad
  • contributes to European Commission management of trade defence instruments (anti-dumping and countervailing measures) affecting industrial sectors

Useful links