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SMEs are Fundamental for Sustainability

26 March 2019
by smeunited -- last modified 26 March 2019

SMEs need to be fully integrated in the strategies to make the EU more sustainable and to fight climate change for them to succeed. This is the message highlighted by SMEunited on the 5th week of its campaign for the EU elections.


Important elements to this path would be: removing the remaining obstacles for SMEs to go from linear to circular; making the EU chemical policy (including REACH) fairer, simpler and more proportional; as well as advancing in the implementation of a decentralised production of energy in the internal market.

"Europe needs to create a win-win situation for the economy and the environment. SMEs, in all their heterogeneity, are not part of the climate change problem, but actually bring solutions," explained SMEunited President Ulrike Rabmer-Koller, "From the new European Institutions, SMEs expect a political and legislative framework allowing SMEs to fully deploy their key role to achieve sustainability in the EU."

She specified that the first action would be removing all obstacles for SMEs to go from linear to circular business models: "Traditional SMEs require a set of measures, such as information, technical assistance, easier access to finance for upfront investments as well as reskilling and upskilling of their work force."

Another solution put forward by SMEunited is to grant SME organisations with capacity building oriented to circular and carbon-neutral business models to support their SMEs in the transition. In the context of circularity, Ms Rabmer-Koller also touched upon the issue of waste: "The Commission will seriously have to push Member States to apply a uniform definition of waste! This will ensure a real Internal Market for SMEs with less red tape and fewer costs."

As for chemical policy, she pointed out that "It will have to be simpler, more proportional and fairer for SMEs! We don't have to fall into the trap to set incredibly high standards which protect our environment as well as human and animal health but sweep away the production from our continent. REACH is still too burdensome in terms of costs and paperwork for SMEs and concrete measures based on the 'Think Small First' principle must be urgently adopted by the Commission and ECHA to correct this situation."

Last but not least, she tackled the electricity market, a key element for SMEs' competitiveness, advocating a real decentralised production of energy by SMEs fuelled with renewables: "This would allow the reduction of energy prices, fostering local SME jobs, fighting climate change and decreasing Europe's energy dependency, thus rendering the EU more competitive and cleaner."

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.

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