The digital single market - trends and opportunities for SMEs (own-initiative opinion)

EESC opinion: The digital single market - trends and opportunities for SMEs (own-initiative opinion)

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.

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