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Europe must facilitate SMEs to drive the transition

01 December 2023
by smeunited -- last modified 01 December 2023

The green and digital transition will be driven in Europe by SMEs. They must be able to develop and invest, which requires Europe to be an attractive place for private investments. SMEunited members decided "SMEs driving the transitions" should be at the centre of demands for the upcoming elections to the European Parliament and the next European Commission.


SMEunited President Petri Salminen presented the SMEunited priorities for the European elections 2024 to European policy makers and other stakeholders at the organisations' networking reception on Thursday.

Making sure that SMEs can drive the transitions and remain competitive, able to invest and to create jobs demands:

  • an entrepreneurial regulatory framework, with a focus on implementing the existing legislation and on reducing reporting requirements as promised by the SME Relief Package;
  • incentives for the greening of SMEs, which includes simple, stable and predictable rules and affordable access to energy and raw materials;
  • improved access to green and transition finance with simple and realistic requirements to prove the sustainability of investment projects and business plans;
  • a well-functioning – digital - Single Market with a level-playing field for SMEs, which means proper implementation and enforcement of common rules. Furthermore, competitiveness needs fair access to third markets and defending multilateralism against protectionism;
  • a stable economic environment with inflation measures avoiding a wage-price spirals and economic downturn;
  • guarding global competitiveness by ensuring coherence and consistency;
  • a skilled workforce.

This last – but not least – priority, received dedicated attention as annual theme 2022 and 2023 of the organisation. At today's General Assembly, members took stock of the work done. Entrepreneurs from across Europe called on the European Commission and Member States for reforms of the education systems. Initial education and training need to deliver for the much needed basic skills still in demand by our companies, in addition to the technical skills for jobs. Furthermore, upskilling, reskilling and continuous training should become a permanent process, since everyone, workers and entrepreneurs alike, will have to rapidly adapt to new evolutions in the labour market. Therefore, SMEunited asks to modernise Vocational Education and Training programmes and to improve the image of Vocational Education & Training and apprenticeship at all levels.

President Salminen concluded with a request to build an entrepreneurial society, where business owners, workers, and civil servants demonstrate the entrepreneurial mindset. This will be in particular crucial after the challenging years our economy faced, both in shocks, economic and geopolitical development and being ready for the challenges ahead. Petri Salminen accepted to guide entrepreneurs through this transitions being re-elected for a second mandate as President of SMEunited.

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.