The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Commission in Athens organised an informative gala in Athens for the institution of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs or SMEs), within the framework of a range of events which will be held in all the capitals of Member States in 2009. During the event, more than 500 participants were informed in relation to the EU programmes which were planned for encouraging competitiveness and innovation in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises. A Memorandum of Co-operation between the Special Secretariat for the Development of International Programmes of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Enterprise Europe Network-Hellas (the Greek node of the Enterprise Europe Network) aimed to take initiatives to support enterprises.
The main speakers were representatives of the European Commiission from the General Directorates of Economic and Financial Affairs, Enterprise and Industry, the Environment, and Research and Technology, from the European Investment Fund and from the Executive Organisation for Competition and Innovation of the European Commission. The event was attended by, Ms. D Bakogianni, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr M. Varvitiotis, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr A. Tsiatsiamis Special Secretary for the Development of International Programmes and Mr. J Durvy, Director of Policy for Innovation in the General Directorate of Enterprises and Industry in the European Committee, as well as the General Secretary of International Financial Relations and Developing Co-operation, Mr Th. Skilakakis and the General Secretary of EBEA, Mrs Palli-Giannakopoulou.
In her address, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Bakogianni noted that ?access to funding is a matter of critical importance for Greek SMEs. In periods of economic downturn we see new opportunities and we have to reinforce innovation, quality and business excellence. [?] Within this framework, the Special Secretariat for the Development of International Programs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, today, signs a Memorandum of Co-operation with the Enterprise Europe Network-Hellas, aiming at the cohesion of our powers and the taking of joint action and initiatives.?
For his part, Mr. Jean-Noel Durvy, Director of Innovative Policy of the European Commission, emphasised that: 'In the EU, the current crisis has been the spark for the materialisation of actions at many levels ? from national governments, the European Central Bank, the European Investment Bank and the Commission. They all co-operate closely for the protection of savings, the conservation of more effective financial flows to households and enterprises and the establishment of a new system of useful governing for the future?.
The gala included a presentation of the European Framework Programme for Competitiveness and Innovation (CIP), which, with a budget of 3.621 million euros for the period 2007-2013, supports the actions for the promotion of innovation and competitiveness and access to funding, encourages better penetration of information and communication technologies, and promotes the role of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. More information on SME financing programmes of the EU as well as presentations of the speakers of the gala is available on the website of MFA for international funding http://www.aidfunding.mfa.gr.