Choose your language:

SMEs and Competitiveness

Sustainable Cities book presentation in Paris (June 2019)

One of the principal areas of focus of bi-regional collaboration in the economic sphere has been the promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The Declaration of the EU-CELAC Ministerial Meeting of July 2018 highlighted that:

“we recognise the need for added value on the part of developing countries and better integration of microenterprises, in addition to small and medium enterprises, in the value chains”.

Work on this matter contributes to the implementation of Chapters 5 and 8 of the EU-CELAC Action Plan 2015 as well as the Declarations of the EU-CELAC Summits and Business Summits.

The goals of this line of work were support for the internationalization of SMEs, competitiveness through the promotion of industrial hubs and maps, the social responsibility of business and formal professional education. With a view to developing employment activities in both regions and boosting bi-regional cooperation and institutional networks in this field, this work will continue in the future with the support for the internationalization of SMEs, competitiveness, and the promotion of formal professional education.

Internationalisation of SMEs

The Foundation has been working in this area for several years, focussing on the internationalization of SMEs through studies dedicated to increasing knowledge about the situation and the challenges to the internationalization of SMEs on both regions. Two studies were done in collaboration with CERALE and a bulletin was devoted to the topic of investment and entrepreneurship in sustainable development.



The Internationalization of Latin American SMEs and their Projection in Europe


  Latin American SMEs, and training programmes for their internationalisation



Industrial maps

One instrument for increasing knowledge of the potential of SMEs was the construction of industrial Maps of Latin America and the Caribbean (MIALC). The region lacks the tools that would make it possible to understand, at regional level, where industry is concentrated and how it has evolved over time. These tools could feed into decision-making processes and development plans with valuable, homogeneous information.

The SMEs Observatory Foundation in Buenos Aires and Universities and Statistical Institutes in 9 Latin American countries collaborated in offering a graphic tool that can be used by local government, private sector organisations and other interested parties, to visualise the concentrations of industrial sectors for the purpose of comparing their competitiveness over time and highlighting potential opportunities for cooperation. See:

Competitive clusters

In 2015 the contribution in this area consisted in mapping the potential for cooperation from region to region in terms of smart specialisation, taking account of the specific advantages of the industrial sectors, as well as of compatible strategies. A study was undertaken which opened up potential as yet unexploited for territorial competitiveness and served as a basis for the work undertaken in the Competitive Cluster initiative, with the support of the Directorate General of Regional Policy of the European Commission DG REGIO.

At the same time dialogue events were developed in which specialists from an initial series of 10 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean came together in a working group, over a whole year, to share experience and best practice in constructing competitiveness and international alliances in their territories. The results of this process were captured in a document that establishes possible measures for greater cooperation from one territory to another.

The various different initiatives in this area have received collaboration and input from various partners, including the DG REGIO, the European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis (ESCA), the Region of Lombardy, the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) and the Spanish Government. The outcome of the second phase of the Competitive Cluster project is reinforced policy dialogue and cooperation through the reactivation of a bi-regional working group of 83 experts from both public and private sectors and through the dissemination of good practices related to cluster development, innovation, smart specialization, regional innovation strategies and competitiveness gathered in a book published in the second half of 2018.



 Clusters and Cluster Policy: Opportunities for collaboration between the European Union (EU), Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)


EU-Latin America cooperation on regional innovation strategies in the framework of regional policy


Atlas of the Industrial Geography of Colombia


Good practice in Education and Professional Training

In 2018, the EU-LAC Foundation and the EUROsociAL+ programme began to work together, with the aim of building bridges between governments, civil society, and institutions dedicated to education and professional training, both in the European Union and in Latin America and the Caribbean. As a result of this joint work, a publication was produced that dealt with youth employability in Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean: How can we generate youth employability?

An event was organised devoted to discussing the innovative experiences of work-linked training in both regions, held in Lima on 1 and 2 April 2019. International Seminar "More young people in business: integrating work and training as a way of improving youth employability and productivity”



How can we generate youth employability? Innovative experiences of work-linked training in Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union) 


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

A study was published and disseminated in 2015, in collaboration with Fórum Empresa, based on the current practice of the principal players in this field and suggesting ways forward for greater cooperation between them, as well as at the level of both regions.

In 2018 a study was completed that focussed on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Sustainable Development Goals in the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean. The study was published with the aim of reporting progress in developing National Action Plans (NAPs), in matters of CSR and Business and Human Rights, encouraged by the Declarations at the EU-CELAC Summits, held in Santiago de Chile in 2013 and in Brussels in 2015.

On this occasion, the fundamental guidelines were drawn up to develop policies to promote CSR, the importance of social action in business, social dialogue, and for such plans to be designed to promote good conduct in business. 



Corporate Social Responsibility in the context of Relations between the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States


Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development Goals in the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean