European SME week 2012 - Europe needs more entrepreneurs
From 15 to 21 October 2012, European SME week – for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) – will promote and support entrepreneurship right across Europe. The event will showcase the support available to firms at European, national, regional and local level, with a special focus on promoting entrepreneurship as a career option, especially for younger people.
At various events held across the 37 participating countries, SMEs and micro-firms will be able to share experiences and develop their businesses. SME Week will also highlight the important role of the Enterprise Europe Network and the progress it has made.
Europe's Small Business Act – driving growth, but more to be done
Through the policies set out in the Small Business Act (SBA), the Commission aims to make Europe more business friendly and encourage people to become entrepreneurs. Europe’s economy relies heavily on small businesses achieving their potential. In the EU, some 23 million SMEs employ 67% of the private sector workforce and account for 80% of newly created jobs.
The Act has already:
- helped streamline and simplify regulations and
- provided funding to more than 110 000 firms, with 200 000 expected to benefit by 2012.
In addition, national governments have:
- cut the cost and time involved in setting up a company
- eased small businesses' access to credit and
- launched schemes to help firms do business in other countries
But more needs to be done. Antonio Tajani has stressed that small and medium-sized enterprises run by dynamic entrepreneurs are the job generators of Europe. He has called for a more innovative and creative enterprises:
"If we want to stimulate growth in Europe, it is from our SMEs that we must start. Entrepreneurial potential in Europe is not fully exploited: 45% of all Europeans would like to become their own boss if they could, but only an average of 10% are actually self-employed today. If we could raise this percentage, we could have millions of new innovative and creative enterprises which would rejuvenate Europe’s economic basis, make it more robust, more job-generating and more resilient to stormy economic times. I therefore intend to focus all my attention to encouraging entrepreneurship."
Antonio Tajani interviewing successful entrepreneurs during SME Week
An SME envoy for each EU country
Newly appointed envoys will defend small business interests in their countries. They will ensure EU law has been correctly applied and that national, regional and local policies are enterprise friendly. Mr Tajani inaugurated the new SME Envoys network at the "Mobilising SMEs for the Future of Europe" conference in Budapest on 25 May 2011.
Improving access to finance
A key element of the Small Business Act is improving SMEs' access to credit.
Under the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), the EU has allocated €1.1 billion to financial intermediaries – with the aim of giving small and medium businesses easier access to loans and equity finance. So far, more than 110 000 firms have benefited. This number will rise to over 300 000 by the end of the programme. On average, each SME given a guaranteed loan in the EU creates 1.2 jobs.
A permanent SME Finance Forum has been set up to monitor the market situation and encourage new approaches to improve access to finance for SMEs.
By the end of 2011, the Commission will present a new Action plan for improving SMEs’ access to finance, as well as targeted measures aimed at making investors more aware of the opportunities offered by small businesses.
The main objectives of this Action plan are the following:
- improve collaboration between European banks and SMEs to rebuild mutual trust
- assess how loan guarantee systems could be used more widely;
- propose measures to create a real single market for venture capital, with investment from institutional investors and an extended passport regime to cover venture capital;
- review stock exchange listing requirements for SMEs for improved liquidity
Tackling late payment
Late payment of invoices is a real curse for businesses. Last year, European firms wrote off debts totalling an estimated €300 billion as a result of late payments. The new Late Payments Directive – 2011/7 lays down time limits for payments and stipulates what compensation must be paid for late payment.
VP Tajani aims to develop an environment where entrepreneurship is rewarded:
"We are working hard to make entrepreneurship education an integral part of the curriculum at all stages of education in Member States in line with the SBA review [122 KB] . We have launched the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs scheme to stimulate exchange of skills and mutual learning among young entrepreneurs and support European SMEs to internationalise and seize the opportunities of the European Single Market. To promote female entrepreneurship, the network of female entrepreneur ambassadors was set up in October 2009. Across the European Union, the stigma of failure is still present and society underestimates the business potential of re-starters. I will therefore continue to promote a second chance policy and invite Member States to promote a positive attitude towards giving entrepreneurs a fresh start and to complete all legal procedures to wind up a business within one year."
"When my mandate comes to an end in three years time, I wish to be measured also on whether I succeeded in generating growth by providing adequate support to SMEs to increase the number of independent entrepreneurs in Europe substantially. This would mean more business and more jobs for Europe. This is my ambition – no more, no less."
More information on