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Oct 19, 2007 15:15 EEST
October 19 (SeeNews) - Croatia and Macedonia signed late on Thursday an accord to enter the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) of the European Union, designed to boost the efficiency of their small and medium-sized companies, the European Comission said on Friday.
The CIP programme will run from 2007 to 2013 with a budget of 3.6 billion euro ($5.14 billion). It contains three pillars:Entrepreneurship and Innovation Framework Programme (EIP), Information and Communication Technologies Policy Support Programme (ICTPSP) and Intelligent Energy-Europe Programme (IEE).
"Croatia and Macedonia are the first non-EU/European Economic Area (EEA) countries to join the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) under which the European Commission promotes innovation, entrepreneurship and growth in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)," the Comission said in a statement.
The backbone of both national economies is formed by the large and expanding sector of small companies. The groundwork on developing a favourable regulatory framework for SMEs has been completed in both countries. The second phase of reforms requires a strong focus on promoting innovation and boosting the competitiveness of SME's [...] Joining the Entrepreneurship and Innovation pillar of CIP will help these countries rise to this policy challenge, the statement added.
All EU member states participate in the CIP Programme. Negotiations for participation in the CIP were opened with Turkey in 2006 and several potential candidate countries in the Western Balkans region are also interested in joining.
Croatia started accession talks in October 2005 and hopes to join the EU by the end of decade, while Macedonia, which was granted candidate country status by the European Council in December 2005, still has received no date for the start of its EU accession negotiations.
($ = 0.7003 euro)
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