Supporting our SMEs

Written by Maria Grapini on 9 May 2019 in Opinion

The internal market is the heart of the EU and its good functioning will increase confidence in the European project, but SMEs need better access to it, writes Maria Grapini.

Maria Grapini | Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual

As a member of the IMCO Committee and Vice- President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup for SMEs, I am proud to say that, during the 2014-19 mandate, MEPs worked to convince the European Commission and the Council that the internal market is the beating heart of the EU and that its proper functioning market will increase confidence in the European project.

For the European and national professional associations, a better-regulated internal market was a requirement and I would like to thank them for their positive cooperation both at the SME Intergroup and during the consultations when we were working to improve the Commission’s proposal.

SMEs still need support for access to finance, for the internationalisation of their businesses, but also for better access to the internal market - particularly public procurement - even although we have modified the relevant Directive.


There is also a need for Member States to improve their compliance with the Late Payment Directive.

Parliament succeeded in initiating and voting on a report - for which I was shadow rapporteur - on improving the late payments situation.

There have been achievements in improving the functioning of the internal market and fair competition as well as better trade defence.

I believe that these achievements should be highlighted to entrepreneurs from all Member States to allow them to monitor how they are being implemented in national legislation.

“SMEs still need support for access to finance, for the internationalisation of their businesses, but also for better access to the internal market”

Such achievements include proposals for better enforcement and modernisation of EU consumer protection rules, the amended proposal on the sales of goods contracts and the proposal for promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services.

Some things have not been completed in this mandate; I hope to solve these in the first year of the coming one.

The “Customs programme” report, for which I was rapporteur, has reached the final stage but has not yet entered the institutional trilogue.

I believe that the functioning of the internal market is influenced by that of the Customs Union. Controlling the entry of products from third countries into the internal market should be done at all customs points and should follow the same procedures.

Finalising the digitisation of customs processes to simplify them and reduce their costs is essential. We also need policies to reindustrialise and increase connectivity the EU.

The mobility package is awaiting interinstitutional negotiations. Personally, I believe that the new Multi-Annual Financial Framework 2021-2027 should have been completed in order to be operational in time.

Unfortunately, the UK’s decision to leave the EU has negatively influenced Parliament’s work over the last two years.

The internal market has already been affected by indecision over Brexit; and, if the final decision is to leave without agreement, things will get complicated for the internal market and the greatest negative effects will be for SMEs.

About the author

Maria Grapini (RO, S&D) is vice chair of Parliament’s SME intergroup

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