Turkey has been seeking to benefit from more pre-accession EU funds for projects amid its harmonization efforts with the bloc, Turkey’s industry and technology minister said on Monday.

The financial and technical support provided by these programs will help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) improve their R&D and innovation capabilities and to increase their export potential, he noted during an event titled Competitive Sectors Program.

Starting Monday, the two-day event aims to promote projects contributing to the targets of the joint industry policy of Turkey and the EU.

Turkey has distributed €800 million ($955 million) in pre-accession EU funds to SMEs, Varank said, adding: “We realized 46 projects worth €520 million across 43 of our cities under the first part of the Competitive Sectors Program in the 2007-2013 period.”

“The Gobeklitepe project was one of them and was listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site,” he noted.

In the second term of the program between 2014-2020, 41 projects received a total budget of €260 million, he said.

“These include a wide variety of projects, from the development of domestic COVID-19 vaccines and drugs to autonomous vehicles, from the digital game industry to obtaining fuel from algae, from the fight against cancer to digital transformation.”

The EU-backed Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) funds are a financial apparatus for candidate countries and are used toward projects and programs allowing alignment with the EU acquis, enhancing their capacity for economic and social cohesion.

“Turkey will expand its national investment incentive system in line with areas prioritized by EU Green Deal,” he also said, adding that more funding and technical support would be given to those projects in this area.

“To encourage planned industrialization and protect the ecological balance, we are transitioning to Green Organized Industrial Zones,” he added.

He underlined that Turkey is aware that it is more essential than ever to strengthen its relations with the EU, focusing on efforts for full membership.

“The program under IPA is one of the most important tools to continue this cooperation through supporting the green and digital transition of the Turkish industry,” noted Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, the head of the EU Delegation to Turkey.

He also said the program would increase productivity and enable an innovation-driven economy.

“Science, research, green growth and climate change will remain as key European priorities for the future,” added Meyer-Landrut.

“Here in Turkey, we will continue supporting the competitiveness, science, technology and innovation activities, as well as the implementation of COSME [EU program for the Competitiveness of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises] and Horizon Europe.”

Landrut also commented on the Turkish government’s fresh economic reform package, saying it would positively contribute to the Turkish economy by focusing on key areas such as productivity, digital transformation, green economy and energy efficiency.

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