The EU Way to Help SMEs Build Networks: the EEN

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Network EENWith unrestricted access to the EU Single Market, European small and medium size enterprises can do business on a vast territory and get clients among more than five hundred million people. This is true in theory but in practice it’s not so straightforward for SMEs to really use this unique chance. While trade barriers have been removed and European legislation is tying to ease the administrative burden of cross-border trading, companies still have to face practical issues. If they want to trade in a different country from the one of origin, they need to know the market of that country, to find business opportunities and talk with potential partners and clients in a language understood by both. To summarise, they need to develop a network that makes it easy and profitable for them to do business abroad.

European institutions are very aware of the importance of this factor for SMEs and, as small and medium sized businesses are a key element of the European economy, they aim to help them build contacts cross-border. Beyond legislation, funding programs and support agencies, the European Commission has established a service fully dedicated to this task:  the Enterprise Europe Network or EEN for brief. The EEN acts as platform where companies but also chambers of commerce and industry, technology centres, universities and development agencies share information and expertise about developing international business. The EEN network of experts focuses on partnerships development, on targeted advice on doing business abroad and on innovation development.

The EEN is a unique tool created to help companies to make the best of the Single Market. However it is not the only tool SMEs can use to develop their international networks. They can also participate in European projects designed to provide opportunities and support in this direction, like MobiliseSME. MobiliseSME pilot scheme for the international exchange of SMEs employees, to be launched soon, is a unique opportunity for firms to get in touch with potential partners in other countries.

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