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Is the EU single market SME-friendly? What do SMEs actually need?

The economic performance of small and medium-sized enterprises is linked to the ease of doing business in an EU single market without barriers. This is the overarching objective of the EU single market and remarkable progress has been achieved over the past 20 years. But we are not there yet and SMEs experience it in their everyday life. 

BusinessEurope organises a conference aimed at providing a platform for SME leaders and EU decision-makers to discuss existing barriers to the single market.

Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
4-10, Avenue de Cortenbergh
1040 Brussels

Please note that some speakers still need to be confirmed - Visit this page regularly for updates!


The conference will be moderated by Brian Maguire, EBX Media.

09.00 - 09.15     Welcome and introduction

  • Welcoming words by Stephan Raes, Head Economic Department, Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the EU

  • Introduction by Marta Marti Carrera, serial entrepreneur and Chair of BusinessEurope’s Entrepreneurship and SME Committee

  • Address by Christian Cardona, Maltese Minister for Economy, Investment and Small Business, and President of the EU Competitiveness Council


09.15 - 10.00     Single market barriers: how do they impact my business?

Speakers will give examples of real market barriers they face in the everyday life of their businesses and discuss ideas on how to have a better functioning single market for goods and services.

  • Ole Kamp, Plant Director at Steelcon, Europe’s leading manufacturer of steel chimneys, will show the challenges that Steelcon faces due to the complexity associated with the recognition of skills and qualifications across Europe.

  • Philippe Portalier, Director Internal Market & Sandardisation, ORGALIME – the European Engineering Industries Association

  • Discussant: Hans Ingels, Head of the Unit "Single market policy, mutual recognition and surveillance", DG Growth, European Commission


10.00 - 10.40     SMEs entering the digital world: how to make it, not to break it?

Speakers will discuss the digital economy, including topics such as how SMEs can be stronger using e-commerce, the need for geo-blocking rules to be in line with SME realities, and igital innovation hubs as accelerators for SME growth.

  • Anna-Lena Bohm, CEO of UniGuide AB and Vice-Chair of BusinessEurope’s Entrepreneurship and SME Committee, will show best policies to boost SME online trading of services and products.

  • Alberto Baban, President of Piccola Industria Confindustria and President of VeNetWork S.p.A., will explain how to support the digital transformation of SMEs and accelerate their innovation and cross-border business.

  • Discussant: Robert Strauss, Head of Unit "Service policy for consumers", DG GROW, European Commission

10.45 - 10.50     Conclusions by moderator


10.50 - 11.20     Coffee break


11.20 - 12.00     Let's talk policy: how can we boost SME cross-border activities?

  • Irmfried Schwimann, Deputy Director General, DG Growth, European Commission

  • VĂ©ronique Willems, Secretary General of UEAPME - the European SME Association

  • Markus J. Beyrer, Director General of BusinessEurope

Debate including the audience.


12.00 - 12.40     Burdensome and complex taxation: how to go about it?

Speakers will discuss how to lower barriers to trade and investment linked to taxation, paying attention in particular to recent or upcoming European Commission proposals in the area of VAT.

  • Donato Raponi, Head of the VAT Unit in DG Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission

  • Kristian Koktvedgaard, President of BusinessEurope’s VAT Working Group, will put the question whether we are ready to remove the barriers to trade linked to VAT and create a forward-looking, SME-friendly VAT system compatible with new business models.

  • Xavier Benoist, Senior Vice-President of Babilou


12.40 - 12.45     Concluding remarks

  • Markus J. Beyrer, Director General of BusinessEurope

  • Marta Marti Carrera, serial entrepreneur and Chair of BusinessEurope’s Entrepreneurship and SME Committee


12.45 - 13.30     Networking lunch

Last updated: 16 February 2017