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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

European conferences - Developing policy initiatives in favour of craft and small businesses

The European Commission has organised in the past several European conferences to discuss issues of relevance for craft and small enterprises. The recommendations of these conferences were taken up by the European Commission, where appropriate, and became an important element for the development of the EU's SME policy.

As the business environment has changed substantially since the last conference in Milan (1997, see below), the Commission organised the 4th European Conference on Craft and Small Enterprises in Stuttgart, Germany on 16 and 17 April 2007. The Commission encouraged broad discussions amongst all stakeholders on the specific challenges craft enterprises and small firms face in the enlarged European Single Market and the increasingly global economy and to highlight opportunities which result from it.

Whilst meeting these challenges has to be done at national and regional level, as much as at EU level, the conference demonstrated to stakeholders that they have much in common, no matter where they are located, and that there are successful ways of overcoming many of their problems, which have already been proven elsewhere in Europe.

The conference participants formulated recommendations to improve further their position in Europe's economy. The Commission has included central aspects into its SME policy and the Small Business Act (SBA) for Europe and intensified the dialogue with stakeholders.

The 3rd European Conference on Crafts and Small Enterprises "Employment through Innovation" took place in Milan on 20/21 November 1997. It followed a series of pre-conferences which investigated the challenges of small and craft enterprises in the European internal market.

Before this, conferences were organised in Berlin, Germany in 1994 and in Avignon, France in 1990.

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