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Europe must deliver on improving business environment

26 October 2023
by smeunited -- last modified 26 October 2023

"SMEs are anchored in their local community and hence much more affected by local business conditions", stated SMEunited President Petri Salminen at the Tripartite Social Summit.


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Europe has to work on its attractiveness for investments. For this, two main points are a less burdensome regulatory environment and closing labour and skills gaps in an effective way. "These challenges require more efforts to be taken by all of us, the European and national legislators and the social partners at all levels", reminded Mr Salminen.

Policy has to take into account that the overwhelming majority of businesses and jobs are intertwined with their local communities and much more affected by local business conditions. Staying competitive means improving our strengths, like well-trained staff, and reducing regulatory burden. SMEs expect that Europe delivers on the promise to reduce reporting requirements by 25%. Companies which comply with environmental and social legislation in the EU should not be requested to report on this. It is up to enforcement authorities to make the necessary checks to guarantee compliance. Moreover, SMEs ask for predictability of regulations over the timespan of an investment.

At the discussion on labour shortage, SMEunited Secretary General VĂ©ronique Willems pointed to the fact that Europe has to bring more people in the labour market, starting with those who are already here in Europe. This means creating the right conditions to bring inactive working age persons to jobs with tailored actions depending on each target group. In addition, more focus should be given to intra EU mobility and migration for low- and middle skilled workers.

At the same time, Europe has to keep people in the labour market as long as possible. This means a continued investment in up- and reskilling and changing our mindset to "life-long learning". This is a joint investment from all actors in society. SME employers take up their part, training young people via apprenticeships, and providing training to staff, mainly on the job. They request support to develop a training policy, create tailored training and have training infrastructure available, which is particular important in rural areas. However, Ms Willems concluded, "keeping people longer in the labour market, also requires revision of pension systems and allow those who want to work longer to do so."

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, we represent 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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