SME Week helping Europe's small businesses thrive

Written by Lowri Evans on 9 November 2015 in Opinion
Opinion

Strong SMEs are crucial to the EU's economic recovery, and it is up to policymakers to ensure none get left behind, writes Lowri Evans.

Since its launch in 2009, SME Week has been celebrating SMEs, highlighting their achievements and listening to the problems they face in their everyday business. 

SMEs are vital to Europe's economy - they create new jobs and drive economic growth. This is why activities such as the SME Week are so important - they help us understand where action is needed to help Europe's small businesses thrive.

As the new Director General of the European Commission's DG internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs, I am happy to report that Europe's SMEs are progressing favourably.


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They have not only started to expand their businesses, but they have also started hiring again. These signs of growth are good news for Europe's 23 million unemployed people, many of them young graduates.

Strong SMEs and a rising entrepreneurial spirit are key to sustained recovery in the EU. Yet many more SMEs still need to join the all too exclusive club of job creators. 

To make this happen, member states and the European Commission have to work on creating the best possible policy environment for SMEs. This means placing SMEs at the heart of our policymaking.

The new single market strategy (SMS) is a case in point. When we launched the SMS, we had in mind SMEs that want to expand beyond the limits of domestic markets and realise the full potential our single market can offer.

The small business act for Europe (SBA) remains the EU's flagship policy initiative for SMEs. A lot of progress has been made since the adoption of the SBA in 2008, but our findings show that we are only half way there. It is still a long way to go before the single market becomes a reality for many of Europe's 22 million SMEs.

How can we better understand SMEs, find out what is working, what is not and what action they need from us in future? By communicating with them. This is why we hold outreach events, such as the single market forum or the SME Week.

The 2015 European SME Week will take place in Luxembourg, from 16 to 20 November. We are proud to be associated with the Luxembourg EU Council presidency for this event. 

My colleagues will present our annual report on SMEs during this week. During the European SME Week we will also hold the SME assembly, a conference with stakeholders and owners.

The assembly will bring together those who on the front line of the application of single market rules and those transforming industries, to discuss policy initiatives that implement the principles of the SBA. 

We will draw on the knowledge in the room: delegates will be asked to propose the topics that they feel are most important, and together suggest the next steps for actions and initiatives.

I must also mention our 'ideas for Europe contest'. The 28 member states and Norway have joined forces with a diverse mix of stakeholders, including TEDx and other grassroots communities, to audition entrepreneurs - especially SME owners in their countries. They are looking for the most inspiring ideas - ideas that have the potential to help Europe change for the better.

Each country will present their best and brightest entrepreneurs, each with their ground-breaking and implementable ideas. The 'top 10' will present their ideas at the Ridderhof on 31 March, 2016 in The Hague.

Europe has a lot to offer when it comes to entrepreneurial spirit and innovation. We want to place a spotlight on Europe's most inspiring entrepreneurs. 

This will show them that Europe's future is in their hands - the creators of new businesses and jobs. It will inspire people to use their entrepreneurial spirit and become the lifeblood of Europe's economy.

Teaming up with all these partners will allow us to go further in SME policy, to deliver on our promises, and to help SMEs do what they know best: do business, and grow.

 

About the author

Lowri Evans is Director General of the European Commission's DG internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs

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