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Political groups reflect on SME policy

21 February 2019
by smeunited -- last modified 21 February 2019

MEP Othmar Karas, President of the SME Intergroup at the European Parliament, and SMEunited Secretary General Véronique Willems invited the different political groups to discuss future priorities for European SME policy.


Technological developments with digitalisation being the most crucial, globalisation, and greening of the economy have been identified by SMEs as their biggest challenges. A responsible future European SME policy has to (i) facilitate SMEs' technological and ecological transition , (ii)ensure fairness and a level playing field of SMEs compared to large platforms and multinationals, (iii) ensure the implementation and enforcement of common rules, and (iv) provide equal access to markets and resources. These aims can only be achieved if  policy makers not only talk but act in line with the requests of SMEs in Europe.

In her introduction to the debate, SMEunited Secretary General Véronique Willems referred to the importance of SMEs, not only for the European economy, but also for society at large. "SMEs are the backbone of the economy and the fabric of society, crucial for providing services and local products for the daily life of Europeans," she underlined. "SMEs play a decisive role for social stability at local and regional level and for the European Social Welfare Model in general".

A future European SME policy has to recognise the SMEs' manifold contribution for Europe and has to reply to their main challenges and concerns. These are: access to skilled staff, finance, technology and affordable energy. Furthermore, she stressed that "SMEs suffer from unjustified burdens from consumer protection and unbalance market powers from platforms and multinationals." Moreover, the incomplete implementation of jointly agreed rules and asymmetries as regards the enforcement of such rules create barriers within the single market, often to the disadvantages of SMEs.

SMEunited is convinced that SMEs are key for the future of Europe and a more focused and delivering SME policy is needed to strengthen Europe. In order to achieve this, Ms Willems challenged the representatives from the political groups with the 10 policy priorities for SMEs as presented in the SMEunited Memorandum for the European Election 2019, and invited them to take them up for their own election programme. Finally, she reminded the politicians that "24 million SME owners, their families and employees are a highly relevant group of voters in the European elections in May".

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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