The Commission's decision to create a Digital Single Market (to remove virtual borders, boost digital connectivity, and make it easier for consumers to access cross-border online content) is therefore a welcome move. But what does it mean for SMEs in practice? How will this affect their day-to-day running? And, given the lessons learnt from previous rapid changes, how do we make an "inclusive" success of the Digital Single Market?
In hearings that the EESC held in a few countries (Belgium, Germany, Portugal and Romania) selected in respect of the 2019 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), it noted that many European SMEs, in particular micro- and small enterprises (93% of businesses in Europe) have been slow to adopt digital solutions. Those that have taken the plunge told the EESC that they faced a number of barriers hampering their operations.
- recommends that every effort be made to remove the main barrier, which is the lack of comprehensive high-quality broadband coverage across Europe.
- proposes that schools offer compulsory courses in digital technologies and that SMEs be able to access training in these tools. In addition, appropriate and affordable continuing training for the self-employed, SME managers and their employees needs to be further supported and promoted.
- calls for tax harmonisation in this field, as ensuring fair competition between SMEs and large companies is essential for the proper functioning of the internal market.
- considers that SMEs' access to financing is a priority in order to support the investments that these businesses make to adapt to the digital transformation of society, trade and consumption patterns and to the internationalisation of trade.
For more information please contact the INT Section Secretariat.