There's plenty of good will and there are tangible results from the past. But still, there's a long way to go before we can point at Europe and loudly say: ‘This is one of the best places in the world for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to do business’.
Across Europe, SMEs and start-ups still suffer from lack of capital and excessive regulation. And bureaucracy and red tape narrows the room for manoeuvre for entrepreneurs.
This has to change.
The wellbeing of our economies depends on the wellbeing of SMEs
More than 40 MEPs from the EPP Group have committed to advancing the agenda of SMEs over the next five years. The aim is to make EU legislation more SME-friendly and get rid of burdensome red tape.
Not for the sake of making the companies happy, but because SMEs are the backbone of our economy. They create 8 out of 10 new jobs in the private sector in Europe and we find some of the most innovative companies among start-ups. Their wellbeing equals the wellbeing of European economies.
This work will move forward in the so-called SME Circle, a working group chaired by the German MEP Markus Pieper.
It is essential that the European Commission pays more attention to entrepreneurs and SMEs in its work Markus Pieper
"We have to make Europe more competitive and stimulate investment with the purpose of creating jobs. It is therefore essential that the European Commission pays more attention to entrepreneurs and SMEs in its work," says Markus Pieper.
Reducing red tape and improving access to finance
The SME Circle has already called on Frans Timmermans, the new First Vice-President of the European Commission, who is responsible for ensuring better regulation and deregulation, to intervene and veto every attempt to put excessive burdens on SMEs.
Also, the SME Circle has made a strong mark on EPP thinking on the growth debate. Input from the circle will be discussed at the forthcoming EPP Bureau Meeting in Riga, where the building blocks for growth are on the agenda.
The strategic goals for the coming five years - as proposed by the SME Circle - would be to help SMEs access financing, avoid red tape, have a true European approach to Information Technology and to strengthen the dual-education system to the benefit of the many young unemployed in the EU.