EU4Business: Connecting Companies’ (EU4BCC) project has successfully ended with a final conference held in Brussels, Belgium, on June 27. Managed by Eurochambres and funded under the EU4Business initiative of the European Union, EU4BCC was developed in the framework of Eastern Partnership (EaP) to foster sustainable economic development and job opportunities in EaP countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus*, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine.
EU4BCC’s main focus has been facilitating the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through various means, such as promoting trade, and inward investment, as well as cultivating strong business connections with companies in the European Union. For a more strategic approach, EU4BCC has been developed on a sectoral basis, targeting bio/organic food, textile, creative industries, tourism, and wine sectors.
Since its launch in 2019, EU4BCC has involved 1,404 SMEs and Business Support Organisations (BSOs) from the EaP and EU countries, including 526 women-led entities. A total of 2,025 SMEs from EaP countries were reached by the EU4BCC actions. Growth and development of SMEs are of utmost importance in the economies of EaP countries, where enterprises often face obstacles with limited financial accessibility, cumbersome regulations, and challenges in entering new markets. The programme became even more relevant considering the economic consequences of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
Over its implementation period, EU4BCC and sectorial consortia have completed 40 actions including B2B matching events, study visits, and twining.
A total of 67 SMEs from the EaP countries participated in the sectoral study visits, while a remarkable number of over 800 business meetings were conducted between the EU and the EaP nations.
EU4BCC activities also included knowledge-sharing activities which enabled 164 beneficiaries from EaP, both BSOs and SMEs, to participate in enriching mobility exchange in the European Union. In total, the project has sponsored 82 exchanges over the years.
To help SMEs grow their business internationally and increase export to the EU, EU4BCC has organized an online SME Export Academy. The five online workshops with high-level professionals gathered 197 participants, alongside with 50 business meetings organized between EU and SMEs from the EaP and the EU.
The EU4BCC final conference in Brussels marked the conclusion of these activities and united EU policymakers, and business delegates from Eastern Partnership countries, along with participants of the project's initiatives.
* In line with the Council Conclusions of 12 October 2020 and in light of Belarus’s involvement in the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, recognised in the European Council Conclusions of February 2022, the EU has stopped engaging with representatives of Belarus public bodies and state-owned enterprises. Should there be a change of the context this may be reconsidered. In the meantime, the EU continues to engage with and, where possible, has stepped up support to non-state, local and regional actors, including within the framework of this programme.