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SMEs Call for Economic Support due to COVID-19 Impact

06 March 2020
by smeunited -- last modified 06 March 2020

Following the outbreak of the corona virus in Europe and measures taken to contain the spread, SMEunited is receiving information from members indicating already a disastrous impact on some sectors in the economy, especially for SMEs.


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SMEunited welcomes the first efforts made by the European Commission to coordinate action among member states and mitigate the impact on economy. However, swift action is required. Firstly, SMEunited asks national governments to use  financial instruments to ensure liquidity and provide working capital by using the existing State aid rules. Possibilities are given by de-minimis regulation or rescue and restructuring schemes. Secondly, we request European Commission support in setting up mechanisms to give assistance to SMEs in difficulties. Thirdly, remaining funds at European level should be directed towards providing working capital to SMEs.

SMEunited receives from member organisations across Europe as well as from sectoral organisations alarming messages about the impact of the measures following the outbreak of the corona virus. In the exhibition and fairs, transport and tourism, as well as in the regions in lockdown economic life has come to a halt.

SMEunited calls on the European Institutions to act now. President Maggiar welcomes that "the European Commission took the initiative in the beginning of the week to coordinate information flows among Member States and has started work to mitigate the impact on economy.

However, SMEunited demands a fast response providing resources to SMEs hit by this crisis. Therefore we invite Member States to use the possibilities provided by State aid rules to have financial instruments granting liquidity and access to working capital for companies impacted. Furthermore, Member states have to be given room to support SMEs with payment delays for taxes and social contributions. Moreover, SMEunited feels the European Commission should step up to incentivise Member States to set up mechanisms to assist SMEs in difficulties. The experience of the Early Warning Europe project can be used to move to a swift implementation. Furthermore, the Commission should ensure that measures taken by Member States do not create disproportionate barriers on free movement of goods. And the stabilisation of cross-border value chains should be priority. Finally, the Commission should free up all remaining funds in the multi-annual financial framework to redirect to those SMEs and sectors affected most.

SMEunited is the association of Crafts and SMEs in Europe with around 70 member organisations from over 30 European countries. SMEunited represents national cross-sectoral Craft and SME federations, European SME branch organisations and associate members. Combined, it represents more than 12 million enterprises with around 55 million employees across Europe. SMEunited is also a recognised employers' organisation and European Social Partner. SMEunited was formally known as UEAPME.

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