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Adaptation of SMEs to the single market: France

The European Community initiative concerning the adaptation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to the single market (1994-1999), jointly financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF), was launched by the European Commission in July 1994. Its aim is to assist SMEs in adapting to the single market and improving their competitivity at a European level.

The programme is implemented primarily through national operational programmes, proposed and co-financed by the Member States. In France, three national SME programmes exist covering:

- The region of Corsica (Objective 1);
- The "Nord Pas de Calais" region (Objective 1);
- A national programme covering all Objective 2 (areas in industrial decline) and Objective 5b (vulnerable rural areas) regions (PIC-PME).

The French authorities have recently published a call for proposals for the national programme for Objective 2 and 5b areas (PIC-PME). This call covers the following two areas of the programme:

- Stimulation of inter-enterprise cooperation for innovation and the modernization of SMEs: Modernization and innovation are strong elements in increasing competitivity. These can be reinforced through the exchange of experience and know-how and the pooling of resources generated by inter-enterprise cooperation;

- Promoting the Europeanization of SMEs: This part of the programme is aimed at assisting SMEs in preparing and implementing technical, financial and commercial cooperation agreements with companies within the European Union.

The call also covers training activities in these areas. It is open to all SMEs (1 - 250 employees) in the areas covered by the programme (Objective 2 and 5b areas, France).

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