COSME - Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and small and medium sized enterprises

Start date: 
Wednesday, 1 January 2014
Thursday, 31 December 2020
Overview and objectives: 

COSME is the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) running from 2014 to 2020 with a planned budget of €2.3bn. The COSME programme shall contribute to strengthening the competitiveness and sustainability of the Union's enterprises, particularly SMEs; and  encouraging entrepreneurial culture and promoting the creation and growth of SMEs, paying particular attention to the specific needs of SMEs established in the Union and of SMEs established in third countries participating in the COSME programme.

The specific objectives of the COSME programme shall be to improve access to finance for SMEs in the form of equity and debt; to improve access to markets, particularly inside the Union but also at global level; to improve framework conditions for the competitiveness and sustainability of Union enterprises, particularly SMEs, including in the tourism sector; to promote entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial culture.

The need of enterprises to adapt to a low-emission, climate-resilient, resource- and energy-efficient economy shall be promoted in the implementation of the COSME programme.


1.- Actions to improve access to finance for SMEs

The Commission shall support actions which aim to facilitate and improve access to finance for SMEs in their start-up, growth and transfer phases, being complementary to the Member States' use of financial instruments for SMEs at national and regional level. In order to ensure complementarity, such actions shall be closely coordinated with those undertaken in the framework of cohesion policy, the Horizon 2020 programme and at national or regional level. Such actions shall aim to stimulate the take-up and supply of both equity and debt finance, which may include seed funding, angel funding and quasi-equity financing subject to market demand but excluding asset stripping.

In addition to the actions referred, Union support may also be given to actions to improve cross-border and multi-country financing, subject to market demand, thereby assisting SMEs to internationalise their activities in compliance with Union law. The Commission may also examine the possibility of developing innovative financial mechanisms, such as crowdfunding, subject to market demand.

2.- Actions to improve access to markets

To continue improving the competitiveness and access to markets of Union enterprises, the Commission may support actions to improve SME access to the internal market, such as information provision (including through digital services) and awareness-raising in relation to, among others, Union programmes, law and standards.

Specific measures shall aim to facilitate SME access to markets outside the Union. Such measures may include providing information on existing barriers to market entry and business opportunities, public procurement and customs procedures, and improving support services in terms of standards and intellectual property rights in priority third countries. Those measures shall complement but not duplicate the core trade promotion activities of Member States.

3.- Enterprise Europe Network

The Commission shall support the Enterprise Europe Network ("the Network") to provide integrated business support services to Union SMEs that seek to explore opportunities in the internal market and in third countries. Actions undertaken through the Network may include the following:

  • Provision of information and advisory services on Union initiatives and law; support for the enhancement of management capacities to increase the competitiveness of SMEs; support aimed at improving SMEs' financial knowledge, including information and advisory services on funding opportunities, access to finance and related coaching and mentoring schemes; measures to increase SME access to energy efficiency, climate and environmental expertise; and promotion of Union funding programmes and financial instruments (including the Horizon 2020 programme in cooperation with national contact points and the Structural Funds).
  • Facilitation of cross-border business cooperation, R&D, technology and knowledge transfer and technology and innovation partnerships.
  • Provision of a communication channel between SMEs and the Commission.

4.- Actions to improve the framework conditions for the competitiveness and sustainability of Union enterprises, particularly SMEs

The Commission shall support actions to improve the framework conditions for the competitiveness and sustainability of Union enterprises, particularly SMEs, so as to enhance the effectiveness, coherence, coordination and consistency of national and regional policies promoting the competitiveness, sustainability and growth of Union enterprises.

5.- Actions to promote entrepreneurship

The Commission shall contribute to promoting entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial culture by improving framework conditions affecting the development of entrepreneurship, including by reducing obstacles to the setting-up of enterprises. The Commission shall support a business environment and culture favourable to sustainable enterprises, start-ups, growth, business transfer, second chance (re-start), as well as spin-offs and spin-outs.

Particular attention shall be paid to potential, new, young, and female entrepreneurs, as well as other specific target groups.

NEW!! - work programme 2015

Catchment areas: 

The COSME programme shall be open to the participation of:

  • Member States of the European Union.
  • European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries which are members of the European Economic Area (EEA), in accordance with the conditions laid down in the EEA Agreement, and other European countries when agreements and procedures so allow.
  • Acceding countries, candidate countries and potential candidates in accordance with the general principles and general terms and conditions for the participation of those countries in the Union's programmes established in the respective Framework Agreements and Association Council Decisions, or similar arrangements.
  • Countries falling within the scope of the European neighbourhood policies, when agreements and procedures so allow and in accordance with the general principles and general terms and conditions for the participation of those countries in the Union's programmes established in the respective Framework Agreements, Protocols to Association Agreements and Association Council Decisions.
Recipient bodies: 

The COSME programme should particularly address SMEs, as defined in Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC of 6 May 2003 concerning the definition of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (OJ L 124, 20.5.2003, p. 36).

Financing terms: 

The financial envelope for the implementation of the COSME programme is set at EUR 2 298,243 million in current prices, of which no less than 60 % shall be allocated to financial instruments.

The financial envelope established under this Regulation may also cover expenses pertaining to preparatory, monitoring, control, audit and evaluation activities which are required for the management of the COSME programme and the achievement of its objectives. In particular it shall cover, in a cost effective manner, studies, meetings of experts, information and communication actions, including corporate communication of the political priorities of the Union as far as they are related to the general objectives of the COSME programme, expenses linked to IT networks focusing on information processing and exchange, together with all other technical and administrative assistance expenses incurred by the Commission in the management of the COSME programme. Those expenses shall not exceed 5 % of the value of the financial envelope.

The financial allocation may also cover the technical and administrative assistance expenses necessary to ensure the transition between the COSME programme and the measures adopted under Decision No 1639/2006/EC. If necessary, appropriations may be entered in the budget beyond 2020 to cover similar expenses, in order to enable the management of actions not yet completed by 31 December 2020.

Programme budget: 
€2 298 243 000.00
Calls developing it: 

COS-WP2014-4-05 - Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs

The purpose of the call is to select bodies which will act as Intermediary Organisations (IOs) to implement the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme at local level. They will, in particular, recruit and assist the entrepreneurs who will benefit from the programme. This call will therefore support actions of organisations enhancing and facilitating the mobility of new entrepreneurs, and is not intended for entrepreneurs willing to participate in the programme.


COS-WP2014-3-15.02 – Maximising synergies between tourism, high-end and creative industries

Following previous initiatives, the Commission has therefore decided to test the possibility of developing synergies between the tourism and the high-end industries at European level through this call for proposals. It aims at funding the development and promotion of a (new) European Route around one high-end product.


COS-WP2014-3-15.03 – Diversifying the EU Tourism Offer and Products - Sustainable Transnational Tourism Products 2014

The objective of the present call is to support projects promoting transnational tourism routes/itineraries/trails, either physical or virtual, stimulate competitiveness of the tourism industry, encourage the diversification of the supply of tourism products and services by the development of sustainable tourism products, encourage the participation of SMEs and create a framework favourable to SMEs’ cooperation.


COS–WP 2014-3-04 - Cluster Excellence Programme

This Call for proposals is the first action in the framework of the Cluster Excellence Programme to be supported under COSME, and aimed to promote cluster excellence across the EU for the benefit of European SMEs involved in clusters. The present action will assist cluster organisations, business networks and their managers to provide high quality services to SMEs in different areas, including access to foreign markets.


COS-WP2014-2-05- China, Latin America and South East Asia IPR SME Helpdesks

This call aims to provide advice and support services to EU SMEs facing intellectual property rights difficulties in or arising from China, South-East Asia, and Latin America.

By offering expert advice through response to individual business queries, e-learning tools, and in-person workshops, it helps SMEs respond practically to such challenges as:


COS-ENTEDU-2014-4-06 - Entrepreneurship Education (Pan-European Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative)

This call aims to support entrepreneurial education and training and intends to boost the growth and business creation, to give our youth the necessary entrepreneurial knowledge and skills and to educate the future generations of entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship education is about encouraging creative thinking and promoting a strong sense of self-worth, initiative and a tolerance of failure. Entrepreneurial learning should be available to every pupil/student in every school.


COS-TFLOWS-2014-3-15 - Facilitating EU transnational tourism flows for seniors and young people in the low and medium seasons

The main aim of this call is to strengthen competitiveness of the European tourism sector by encouraging the extension of the tourism season and by increasing internal mobility of seniors and young people. Eligible proposals will target seniors (55 years old or above) or young people (aged between 15 and 29) and will aim at designing/developing a tourism product concept, and running a pilot test.


COS-RPAS-2014-2-03. Facilitating access to regulation for light Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)

This Call for Proposal aims at supporting Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), start-ups and entrepreneurs operating or wishing to operate light Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) in Europe by developing a web portal, which will facilitate their access to relevant regulations, requirements and procedures.

In particular the action will:


COS-CLUSTER-2014-3-03 Cluster go international

The main objective of the action is to intensify cluster and business network collaboration across borders and sectoral boundaries and to support the establishment of European Strategic Cluster Partnership to lead international cluster cooperation in fields of strategic interest – notably in support of the development of emerging industries.

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