Billionth support from the EU: What will business receive from the COSME and how to participate in the program?

Ukraine  has acceded to the EU Program – COSME total budget of which is 2.3 billion euro. Delo.UA  has figured out what it means for business and what new opportunities for SMEs are available now.

Back in May of last year, Ukraine has joined the European Union program, which provides assistance to entrepreneurs of middle level. This is an ambitious, huge project with a billion financing, but Ukrainian business is not familiar with it.

Unfortunately, until this moment COSME  wasn’t able to to be fully functional , because the parliament had not ratified it. However, on February 22 the MPs among 226 deputies formally approved the agreement. Now it is time to understand what business  can learn a from the cooperation program, which, in fact, could have been used for already 2 years, if not bureaucratic and ” papers wandering around the Cabinet of Ministers  ” (as was noted by the former Deputy Minister of  economy Yulia Klimenko)

What is COSME?

It is the European Union program which supports various projects in four main areas – improving access of SMEs to financing, access to markets, improving the conditions for competition, as well as promoting a culture of entrepreneurship. It is valid until 2020 and the total budget is EUR 2.3 billion.

The last three components work for Ukraine. They  account 35,5% COSME budget  for financing (in other words it’s  a little bit more than 800 million euro).

The main part of the program is providing guarantees for Ukrainian banks, leasing companies and other financial institutions, as well as supporting funds, which are being constantly invested to SMEs – will not be available for Ukraine.

The reason for the limitation of the program – is too sluggish currency liberalization. Julia Klimenko said that at first it was necessary to ensure free entry and exit of currency without complicated procedures, and only then you can apply for EU funding. “In the opposite case, Ukrainian companies will not be able to obtain financing in the European financial institutions,” – emphasizes the ex-deputy minister of economy.

In addition, according to her words, the full program includes a much higher fee. For example, when joining  three components of COSME we had to pay 1 million euro, but European Union has helped us with this. “Joining the component of program financing, we would have paid the membership fee twice,  but we wouldn’t have an opportunity to use it. “, – Julia Klimenko explains.

However, according to her words, Ukraine will receive full access to the program as soon as the law will be changed.

Ukraine has became the eighth country outside the European Union, which joined the COSME, that includes such countries as Montenegro, Macedonia, Moldova, Turkey, Albania, Serbia and Armenia.

What can COSME help Ukrainian business?

Assistants support: The official accession of Ukraine to the program does not mean that tomorrow small and medium businesses will be able to demand  the EU money for their needs. But non-governmental organizations, regional development agencies, government agencies, educational institutions, trade unions, business associations and the usual legal entities that are engaged in the support and development of small and medium-sized businesses will be able to get financial aid.

Consultations: According to the plan, in 2017 the European Union intends to allocate 62 million euro for the operation and expansion of the European network of enterprises (ENN), as well as organizations that are its contact points in different countries. Business is able to register in the ENN companies and every day to see the information about potential partners. And ENN have recorded more than 2.5 million companies. Organization that ENN includes, , will be consulting entrepreneurs on EU legislation, regulatory policy in the markets, access to finance, the protection of intellectual property rights, and even in some cases will help to search for investors that will be able  to bring new technology products to market. Currently, there are 10 Ukrainian companies that are part of ENN.

Exchange business: Ukrainian entrepreneurs will also be able to participate in the Erasmus program. The European Union is planning to spend 8.68 million euro for its financing in 2017. The “lucky-ones”  who have just opened their companies will be able to get new experience of working in successful company by exchange. The program also involves research and development of companies that are members of Erasmus.

Training: Considerable attention in the COSME is paid to the training of entrepreneurs. 800 thousand euro  were allocated for training, incubators, and assistance in entering new markets for small and medium-sized manufacturers, and for creative businesses, in particular, design companies. 2,6 million euro were allocated for creative businesses, in particular, design companies.

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