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EU Summit must deliver for SMEs, despite Brexit

12 December 2018
by smeunited -- last modified 12 December 2018

Ahead of the meeting of the European Council, the General Assembly of SMEunited issued a declaration asking the Heads of State and Government to respond to the reality of SMEs.


This specifically concerns topics handled by the European Council later this week, such as uncertainty related to Brexit, progress on the future Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the state of play of the European Single Market, and strengthening digitalisation in Europe. As the driving force behind Europe's economy and the main contributors to welfare and stability in Europe, SMEs are entitled to a better place in the political spotlight.

Commenting on the current Brexit topic, SMEunited President Ulrike Rabmer-Koller stressed that "The postponement of the vote and the further delay regarding the outcome after March 2019, only intensifies the uncertainty for SMEs. We urgently need clarity on the future regulatory framework for our SMEs, and on a way forward."

With the dark cloud in the shape of Brexit hanging over Europe, it is even more important to address the SME topics for the future of Europe.
The SMEunited 2018 annual theme was "Digital Transformation" and, with its member organisations, SMEunited gathered best practices and put forward policy demands at European level. "Our SMEs request fair and transparent rules, skills development, modern infrastructure and standards allowing them to digitalise," she emphasised.

On the Single Market, more and more SMEs question the balance between costs and benefits. "SMEs ask for a timely, correct and full implementation and enforcement of European legislation and decisions in all Member States. We ask for a reduction of barriers preventing SMEs from growing – such as red tape and divergences in tax systems, IPR protection and standards," she underlined.

To tackle the challenges mentioned, the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) has to aim at making Europe more competitive. European programmes have to provide European added value and should incentivise the implementation of needed reforms. "In this context, SMEs expect better support for innovation, to tackle the skills gaps, and to provide access to finance," highlighted Ms Rabmer-Koller. "SMEunited requests progress on the negotiations about the future MFF and a timely adoption of the future programmes."

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.