The European Commission presents its new program to support SMEs

With a budget of 2.5 billion euros for the period 2014-2020, the program for the competitiveness of enterprises and SMEs (COSME) will be the successor to the current program for the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP)

The new programme targets in particular: 1) entrepreneurs, in particular SMEs, which will benefit from easier access to funding for their business, 2) citizens who want to become self-employed and face difficulties in setting up or developing their own business, 3) Member States’ authorities, which will be better assisted in their efforts to elaborate and implement effective policy reform.

The Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs, COSME will focus on financial instruments and support to the internationalisation of enterprises and it will be simplified – to make it easier for small businesses to benefit from it. The Programme has the following general objectives:

- Improve access to finance for SMEs in the form of equity and debt: First, an equity facility for growth-phase investment will provide SMEs with commercially-oriented reimbursable equity financing primarily in the form of venture capital through financial intermediaries. Second, a loan facility will provide SMEs with direct or other risk-sharing arrangements with financial intermediaries to cover loans.
- Improve access to markets inside the Union and globally: Growth-oriented business support services will be provided via the Enterprise Europe Network to facilitate business expansion in the Single Market. This programme will also provide SME business support outside the EU. There will also be support for international industrial cooperation, particularly to reduce differences in regulatory and business environments between the EU and its main trading partners.
- Promote entrepreneurship: activities will include developing entrepreneurial skills and attitudes, especially among new entrepreneurs, young people and women.

The Programme is expected to assist yearly 39 000 firms, helping them create or save 29 500 jobs and launch 900 new business products, services or processes, yearly. Access to credit will be easier for entrepreneurs, particularly those willing to launch cross-border activities, with an anticipated €3.5 billion in additional loans and investment for European businesses. The financial envelope for implementing the Programme shall be EUR 2.5 billion, of which EUR 1.4 billion shall be allocated to financial instruments. The remainder will be spent for financing the Enterprise Europe Network, international industry cooperation and entrepreneurship education.

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