Florence Pinot de Villechenon is associate Professor at ESCP Europe Paris campus and Academic Director of the CERALE (Centre d’Etudes et de Recherche Amérique Latine – Europe).
This article is based on qualitative studies carried out by CERALE on the internationalization of French SMEs in Mexico and the experience of Southern European SMEs in Brazil with the participation of Humberto López Rizzo (Université Paris1-Chaire des Amériques), Elisa Salvador (École Polytechnique), Nora Lado (Universidad Carlos III), Rosario Cruz and Ignacio Torres (Universidad de Sevilla) and Ricardo Reis (Universidade Catolica de Lisboa). It also draws on the conclusions reached during the seminar organized by CERALE at ESCP Europe under the auspices of the EU-LAC Foundation, CAF-Development Bank of Latin America and the Institut des Amériques on 28 February 2014 on “SMEs, Actors in the Dialogue between Europe and Latin America”.
Since the 1980s, SMEs have been regarded as one of the vectors of European-Latin American relations. What were then called facilités Cheysson or ECIP programmes constituted the first cooperation arrangements between European and non-member SMEs. When the programme AL-INVEST was launched in 1994, it formed part of this movement to accompany the internationalization efforts of European and Latin American SMEs. AL-INVEST was developed in four phases between 1994 and 2012 and proved to be –along with ALFA and URBAL– one of the most successful regional programmes implemented by the European Commission for and with Latin America. Read paper.