Good Practice
Turkey Joins EU Financing Programme for SMEs

Last week Turkey and the European Commission signed an agreement for Turkey to join the EU’s Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises programme (COSME).

An article in Daily Sabah explains that the agreement comes as part of Turkey’s adaptation and integration process into the European Union, which will also see the country participate in the Horizon 2020 programme. Turkey becomes the fourth non-EU nation to join the programme after Macedonia and Moldova joined last month. The COSME programme runs from 2014 until 2020 and has a total budget of €2.3 billion. Countries from outside the EU that want to participate also pay an additional contribution to the programme’s budget.

According to an EU press release, COSME’s goal is to enhance competitiveness and sustainability of EU companies, as well as promoting entrepreneurialism and growth of SMEs. The programme improves SMEs’ access to finance, access to markets at both EU and international level, and ensures better conditions for business creation and growth. It aims to reach more than 70,000 SMEs across Europe over seven years.

Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, EU Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, welcomed Turkey’s decision to join the programme and said that it confirmed the nation’s European aspirations.

“Participation in COSME and in the Enterprise Europe Network will help Turkey to increase the competitiveness of its enterprises, in particular SMEs.”

A statement from Turkey’s Science, Industry and Technology Ministry said that the programme would ensure SMEs could access funding and obtain bank loans with easier and more flexible terms.

Commenting on the agreement, Science, Industry and Technology Minister Fikri Isik said “Turkey has taken important steps in the integration process with the EU. Economic cooperation and investment are most crucial in this. Turkish entrepreneurs and investors should benefit from the opportunities offered by COSME by submitting effective and high-quality projects in order to obtain millions of Euros.”

As an economy particularly dependent on SMEs, Turkey could benefit hugely from the agreement. Earlier this month, Today’s Zaman reported on TurkStat figures showing that SMEs employed three out of every four people in Turkey in 2012. According to statistics, there were 2.64 million active SMEs in Turkey that year, making up 99.8 percent of enterprises.

The nation has laid out foundations for developing a favourable regulatory framework for SMEs, but the COSME agreement should also boost competitiveness and innovation for its small and medium-size companies.

Turkey’s involvement in the programme will also further strengthen the country’s ties with the EU, helping to position itself for EU membership. Turkey’s efforts to boost its economy through finance programmes and developing trade and investment agreements are proof of the country’s ambition to become a top 10 world economy.