The EU SME Centre Holds its Phase IV Kickoff Meeting
On Friday 2 December 2022, the official kickoff meeting for the EU SME Centre Phase IV was held with all parties gathering online from Europe and from China. Representatives from the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA), DG GROW, and all four consortium partners and two associated partners of the EU SME Centre took part in this event.
Mr Igor Kalinic, Head of Sector Competitiveness and Internationalisation at EISMEA, opened the meeting with welcoming remarks and introduced the background of the meeting. Mr Fabrice Terrac, Deputy Head of Unit A.3 at DG GROW, gave an overview of the policy context and actions taken by the European Union to facilitate the internationalisation of SMEs. He emphasised the priority of finding synergies for EU initiatives that can work in complement of each other toward this goal. He underscored the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions and Ukraine crisis, all of which heightened the priority of helping European SMEs and entrepreneurs to find opportunities where they lie.
While the European Union and China are currently at a delicate stage of their relations, China remains the largest trading partner of the EU for goods. Looking for opportunities is at the core of the philosophy underlying the EU SME Centre initiative, which has gained recognition as a concrete and successful project bringing real world benefits to companies.
Mr Renzo Isler, Coordinator of the EU SME Centre Phase IV and CICC Director, highlighted the important associations made in the new three-year phase of the project with consortium partners and associated partners bringing their knowledge and networks across Europe and China to the initiative. A focus of the Centre’s mission is to complement the actions of trade promotion organisations in order to increase the understanding of the China market to SMEs in Europe and to aid EU Member States with limited resources in their representations in China, including those without national chambers of commerce in the country.
In Phase IV, CICC acts as coordinator and liaison between EISMEA and all project partners. EUCCC Secretary General Mr Adam Dunnett, ICCF Director General Mr Marco Bettin, SPI Board Member Ms Sara Medina, EUCBA Executive Director Ms Gwenn Sonck, and Mr Roger Suarez representing TPE Secretary General Ms Pascale Rouhier, presented the specific role of each consortium partner and associated partner in the EU SME Centre’s activities, including market access publications, technical assistance with business enquiries, training sessions, advocacy actions, partnerships, as well visibility and outreach efforts. Mr Darjan Peric, EISMEA Project Officer for the EU SME Centre, and Mr Milos Stanojevic, EISMEA Financial Officer, presented the contractual obligations and rights of each party within the Grant Agreement for Phase IV. In the meeting conclusion, participants discussed the next steps of development of the project and expressed their strong commitment to contributing to the success of the initiative.
About the EU SME Centre
Created in 2010, the EU SME Centre is an initiative funded by the European Union to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from EU Member States and countries participating in the Single Market Programme, getting them ready to do business in China. The Centre helps facilitate market access and provides a comprehensive range of first-line, hands-on, free services to inform, advise, train, and connect European SMEs.
The EU SME Centre is in Phase IV (July 2022 – June 2025) implemented by four consortium partners — the China-Italy Chamber of Commerce, European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, Italy-China Council Foundation, Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovação — and two associated partners, Trade Promotion Europe and EU-China Business Association.