Albania joins EU innovation & competitiveness programme

Albania is the fifth country of the group of EU candidate and potential candidate countries to join an important part of the EU's Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) Under the CIP, the European Commission promotes innovation, entrepreneurship and growth in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Today, European Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen and Mr Genc Ruli, Minister for Economy, Trade and Energy of the Republic of Albania, signed a Memorandum of Understanding formalising the Republic’s entry to the EIP, the entrepreneurship and innovation pillar of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP).

The backbone of the Albanian economy is formed by the large and expanding sector of small companies. The groundwork on developing a favourable regulatory framework for SME’s has made substantial progress through Albania’s participation, since 2003, in the European Charter for Small Enterprises process.

Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy said: “We are creating a win-win situation for Albania and for the EU. The decision of Albania to join the CIP confirms the European aspirations of Albania and the progress already achieved. We also share the understanding that the challenges of today's global world are best faced by integration and ever closer co-operation.”

The CIP programme, which runs from 2007 to 2013 with a budget of € 3.6 billion, contains the following 3 pillars:

  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation Framework Programme (EIP): EIP fosters the competitiveness of enterprises for example by providing co-guarantees and co-investments for local banks and risk capital funds so that they can improve access for SMEs to loan and venture capital finance. EIP also supports providers of business and innovation services in all EU regions or helps to link innovation actors and clusters in European networks.
  • Information and Communication Technologies Policy Support Programme (ICTPSP): ICTPSP accelerates the development of a sustainable, competitive, innovative and inclusive Information Society stimulating a wider adoption and more efficient take up and better use of ICT.
  • Intelligent Energy-Europe Programme (IEE): IEE promotes energy efficiency and new and renewable energy sources in all sectors including transport.

A long-term view demands that the Commission works very closely with all candidate and potential candidate countries.