In his opening address, the Head of Representation, Mr Martin Bugelli, spoke about the duty the European Commission has to reach out and communicate its initiatives through hard facts, a role that the Representation office seeks to fulfil by facilitating debate on new policies and measures in different fields.
The Minister for Fair Competition, Small Business and Consumers, Jason Azzopardi, who is also Malta's Envoy for SMEs, gave a snapshot of measures taken at national level to foster entrepreneurship, particularly amongst micro and small enterprises. He called on the EU for more clarity in relation to access to finance, especially in pursuit of further internationalisation of Maltese businesses. He referred to successful schemes like Micro Invest, which is considered a best practice even at European level. Some 200 new jobs were created with an investment of around €10 million. Micro Credit, through the EU's JEREMIE programme is another scheme providing access to loans for small businesses. 181 companies have already benefitted from this scheme, whereby they have been granted subsidised loans amounting to circa €15 million for an aggregate and final investment of €24 million. €52 million have been allocated for this scheme.
The new EU Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) was presented by Mr Edward Tersmette, from the European Commission's Directorate General for Enterprise.
COSME will run from 2014 to 2020, with a planned total budget of €2.5bn. It is aimed at facilitating access to finance and creating an environment favourable to business creation and growth. It will also seek to encourage an entrepreneurial culture in Europe by helping small businesses to operate outside their home countries.
More information available here.