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SMEs are key to fight climate change

07 February 2019
by smeunited -- last modified 07 February 2019

In a meeting yesterday with Commissioner Karmenu Vella, SMEunited President Ulrike Rabmer-Koller stressed the important role SMEs operating in eco-industry play in fighting climate change.


She explained which measures should be adopted to help traditional SMEs become greener and low carbon. Furthermore, she encouraged the Commissioner to remove all the remaining barriers for SMEs going from linear to circular, thus boosting the systemic change required for the uptake of circular economy. On REACH, she requested more proportionality and a reduction of red tape and costs, and urged the Commission to find a solution for SME users with UK suppliers, in case of a hard Brexit.

"We should achieve a win-win situation for the economy and the environment!", was the main message put forward by SMEunited President Ulrike Rabmer-Koller during the meeting with Commissioner Karmenu Vella.  In this context, she made it clear that SMEs, in all their heterogeneity, are not part of the climate change problem, but actually bring solutions, particularly through the eco-industries. Elaborating further, she said "For this to happen, earmarked funds in the EU innovation programmes, easier access of eco-innovations to the market, as well as support for the internationalisation are some of the prerequisites."

Ms Rabmer-Koller also pointed out that a different set of measures is necessary to reduce the carbon footprint of the other group of SMEs, the traditional ones: "This requires information, technical assistance, easier access to finance, reskilling and upskilling of their workforce as well as capacity building for their SME organisations."

Regarding circular economy, she highlighted that SMEs are key to the systemic change for leaving the linear model. "However, important measures favouring the uptake of circularity should be adopted, such as the availability of good quality, affordable  secondary raw materials, a switch of attitude in the whole supply chain, and concrete support from local authorities", she suggested.

When they talked about REACH, Ms Rabmer-Koller thanked the Commission for its efforts supporting SMEs, but made it clear that REACH remains very expensive and burdensome. Other than the need for REACH to be proportional and less bureaucratic, she flagged up the danger linked to a hard Brexit. Finally, she highlighted  the need "to find solutions for users of chemicals with UK suppliers, who would become importers to the EU and thus subject to registration."

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. SMEunited was formally known as UEAPME.

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