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Montenegro joins EU’s competitiveness, innovation program

Montenegro on Monday joined the European Union’s Competitiveness and Innovation Program (CIP), following the footsteps of three fellow candidate and potential candidate countries aspiring to join the EU.

Croatia and the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia joined the CIP in October 2007, while Turkey did so in February this year. Under CIP, the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, promotes innovation, entrepreneurship and growth in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). European Commissioner Gunter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy, said Montenegro’s joining the CIP “confirms its European aspirations.” “Participation in CIP, and, in particular the cooperation in the new Enterprise Europe Network, which Montenegro has already successfully entered, will help Montenegro to increase the competitiveness of its enterprises, in particular SMEs,” he added.

According to the European Commission, the possibility of participating in a host of joint projects and in Enterprise EuropeNetwork with the 27 EU member states is a substantial advantage for Montenegro. It will allow the country to take full benefit of best practices on entrepreneurship, SMEs policy, competitiveness and innovation in the EU. The backbone of the Montenegrin economy is formed by the large and expanding sector of small companies. The groundwork on developing a favorable regulatory framework for SMEs has been almost completed through Montenegro’s participation, since 2003, in the European Charter for Small Enterprises.

On Monday, Verheugen and Montenegro’s Minister for Economic Development Branimir Gvozdenovic also signed a Memorandum of Understanding formalizing the Montenegro’s entry to the Entrepreneurship and Innovation pillar of CIP. The CIP, which runs from 2007 to 2013 with a budget of €3.6 billion (some $5.4 billion), contains the following three pillars.

*Entrepreneurship and Innovation Framework Program (EIP): EIPfosters 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 Program (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 information and communication technologies.
*Intelligent Energy-Europe Program (IEE): IEE promotes energy efficiency and new and renewable energy sources in all sectors including transport. (