Trade Policy Review - An Open, Sustainable and Assertive Trade Policy
Reconciling ambitious sustainable and social objectives with an enabling environment for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises - Related Opinions
Europe is going through a green and digital transformation and the European institutions are committed to ensuring that people remain centre-stage and that the economy works for them.
Europe is embarking on a transition towards climate neutrality and digital leadership. European businesses can lead the way as we enter this new age, as they has done in the past.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are essential to Europe’s competitiveness and prosperity. Based on the new SME Strategy, the EU will support SMEs by:
- encouraging innovation through new funding and digital innovation hubs as part of the sustainable and digital transitions;
- cutting red tape by reducing barriers within the Single Market and opening up access to finance;
- allowing better access to finance by setting up an SME Initial Public Offering Fund (with investments channelled through a new private-public fund) and the ESCALAR initiative (a mechanism to boost the size of venture capital funds and attract more private investment).
This own-initiative opinion refers to what a comprehensive approach to industrial policy should include, in order to reposition European production of goods and services in the global context, on the basis of an eco-social open market model that responds to the tradition and the future of the EU.
This opinion aims to identify the barriers, key success factors and solutions for creating a truly innovative business climate to capture the solutions provided by new economic models.
The EESC welcomes in principle the integration of five predecessor programmes (and of the European Statistical Programme, though that extends beyond the scope of the single market) and a number of budget headings into a single market programme, as it can be expected to produce synergies and improve cost efficiency. Due to steadily increasing volume of work in consumer protection policy EESC urges the Commission to further develop cooperation with consumer networks and organisations and to increase funding for consumer protection. It is also concerned that the negotiations on the EU financial framework could result in cuts and thus in a lower budget than in the past.
The EESC supports the proposals that enhance the international competitiveness of SMEs, reduce cost, harmonise and simplify processes for registration, filing of company changes and conversions. It believes that guidance by the Commission to the Member States on transposition of the directives is useful.
The EESC believes that the current proposal, although a step in the right direction, is not enough to tackle the existing barriers on the SME Growth Markets.
It stands by its previous opinions that the low level of communication and bureaucratic approaches are significant barriers and much more effort must be put into overcoming these obstacles.
Communication from Brussels should always target the bottom of the chain – the SMEs themselves. The EESC also advises the European Commission to look into the possibility of attracting institutional investors, such as private pension funds, to invest in these SME Growth Markets.
The Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU has requested the EESC to prepare an exploratory opinion on how to best promote SMEs in Europe with a special focus on a horizontal legislative SME approach and respect of the SBA's "think small first".
A number of topical industrial developments and trends are currently at the focus of attention. At the same time it should be recognised that people must live everywhere in Europe, including in many regions that these innovative trends are not likely to reach even in the next 50 years. Without undermining their importance and while supporting the political efforts promoting these trends, it is necessary to recall that these businesses are the key element in the creation of new activity and value in resource-constrained areas and are crucial to enhancing economic prosperity and cohesion across Europe. Against this background, the main objective of the opinion is to identify and analyse the particular challenges these businesses face and find solutions and possibilities to support them.