Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the EU economy. According to Commission estimates, the overall contribution of SMEs to EU-27 value added was more than 57% (EUR 3.4 trillion) in 2012. Although the role of SMEs in the EU economy is crucial and their well being should be a priority for European policymakers, they struggle with access to finance, especially in the countries severely hit by the crisis. The Greek experience can and should be taken as a case study and conclusions drawn on how to improve the system for the future.
In 2004 the European Union experienced its biggest enlargement so far, welcoming 10 new Member States. A decade later, members of the Employers' Group representing employers' organisations from these countries summarise the changes that have taken place thanks to accession to the EU.
Completion of the Single Market is one element necessary for the European venture to succeed. The EESC has a key role to play here, for the good of both consumers and business. To this end, the EESC set up a Single Market Observatory (SMO) in 1994, with the support of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council. The SMO is made up of 33 members representing European civil society organisations. Its aim is to monitor how the Single Market operates in practice, identify where the problems are and help legislators remedy existing shortcomings.