12 October 2005

The Web
Business Today

Euro-info centres hold annual conference in Malta

The 15 Euro Info Centre (EIC) Conference held in Malta recently had as a focus the networking of the centres for growth and and jobs in Europe.
Inaugurated by Investments Minister Austin Gatt and addressed also by Joanna Drake from the EU Commission, the conference’s highlight was Jean-Luc Abrivard from DG Enterprise and Industry.
"Networking for growth and jobs in Europe" was the focus of the debates, which saw the active participation of around 600 delegates from all over Europe.
Euro Info Centres are the most extensive business support Network in the EU: there are almost 300 EICs present in the 25 EU Member States, Norway and Iceland, as well as in candidate countries and the Mediterranean Basin. These constitute a central pillar of the Commission’s enterprise policy, providing concrete assistance to SMEs in their business development. Following on from a tradition of exchanges and meetings, the EIC Conferences are designed to further strengthen the Network's underlying bonds. They are also an occasion for addressing subjects with a key bearing on the Network’s strategy.
This year's conference was dedicated to "Networking for growth and jobs in Europe". It focused on the services currently offered by the Euro Info Centre Network and the ways in which these could be developed, considering the future Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) and other initiatives, in order for the Network to further contribute to the creation of more jobs within the EU and the establishment of strong and durable growth for Europe.
Dedicated time and space at the conference was given for networking activities through various meetings and a marketplace to promote ideas and products, as well as the exchange of knowledge and sharing of experiences. The conference gave the latest state of play for the CIP and the roles therein for the business support Networks on how to help increase the competitiveness of Europe’s SMEs in meeting future challenges. Likewise, workshops in-line with the aims of the Conference examined the issues important to EICs in assisting companies. These events covered the issues of Business Co-operation, the Competitiveness of SMEs, the establishment of regional gateways, and the issue of the feeding-back of information from European businesses to Europe’s policy makers.
The EIC Malta together with Malta Enterprise, were the co-organisers of this event together with DG Enterprise and Industry (Brussels). Prominent speakers at this event included Maive Rute, the new European Commission SME Envoy and Director of the Directorate “Promotion of SMEs Competitiveness”; Martin Frost from the Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry in France; Rob Van der Horst, Senior Vice-President of the International Council for Small Business ICSB; and Dieter Kreuziger, Managing Director of Hessen Agentur, the development agency for the German Bundesland Hessen.

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