The report published on 14 September 2021 shows that nearly 72,000 companies in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine (Eastern Partnership) received assistance from EU4Business and managed to create over 50,000 new jobs.
The European Commission published its annual report on the EU4Business initiative, covering all EU support to SMEs in the six Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. The 2021 report provides detailed information on EU assistance across the programme’s three priority areas: access to finance, business development services and the business-enabling environment. In 2020, the EU provided support to nearly 72,000 SMEs, a third of which are owned by women. This has resulted in over 50,000 new jobs and €1 billion in extra income generated by EU-supported SMEs in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
“Despite the COVID pandemic, SMEs in the Eastern Partnership countries continued to create jobs and wealth with the European Union’s support. In 2020, the budget allocated to the EU4Business initiative grew significantly, translating into exceptional results for a time of crisis, benefiting business owners and workers alike. The ambitious Economic and Investment Plan that we are putting forward for the next five years will contribute to stimulate jobs and growth further and bring prosperity to the Eastern Partnership region. It will help to build back better by supporting a green and inclusive socioeconomic recovery, strengthening resilience and further integrating our economies.” stressed Lawrence Meredith, Director for Neighbourhood East & Institution Building, DG NEAR, European Commission
“As businesses around the world continue to struggle with the effects of the COVID pandemic, the EU has demonstrated that it remains committed to supporting SMEs in the EaP region”, EU4Business Facility team leader Mark Hellyer explains. “Despite the challenges, the EU increased the budgets available to support SMEs by 12.5% under the EU4Business Initiative and in turn, this allowed partners to support one in ten SMEs across the EaP.”
Access to Finance
About 5,400 SMEs received financial support in the form of loans. The financial support has benefited entrepreneurs in a number of ways, including expanding their leadership in local and foreign markets.
Business Development Services
Around 65,000 SMEs received support with business development services, and around 1,000 business support organisations were trained.
In addition, the EU provided support to 158 government institutions, including policymakers, regulators, and enforcement agencies, helping to improve their capacity, and reforming more than 1,138 laws, regulations, and procedures.
Working with partners and Member states in a coordinated European response, the European Union reacted swiftly to the COVID-19 pandemic to mitigate the immediate socio-economic consequences and help kick-start the post-pandemic recovery in the Eastern Partnership region. The coordinated response resulted in mobilising additional €100 million programme to support SMEs to access credit more easily; €200 million in existing credit lines and grants to SMEs in local currency; €500 million available for the EU Neighbourhood through the European Fund for Sustainable Development, and €1.45 billion in EU macro-financial assistance to support governments.