The new EU SME strategy: 50 actions to make it work
We welcome the announcement of the European Commission’s intention to publish a renewed EU SME strategy. A comprehensive and action-oriented initiative is essential to improve the operating environment for SMEs and for the economic and social wellbeing of our societies.
With its forthcoming strategy, the European Commission has an opportunity to shape the EU SME policy to bolster the number of vibrant SMEs in the EU and help them fully grasp the opportunities and respond robustly to the challenges brought by a rapidly changing business environment.
The EU SME strategy should build on the achievements of the Small Business Act (SBA), an overarching framework for the EU SME policy which delivered a number of encouraging outcomes. However, the priorities outlined in the SBA should be updated by taking account of the new needs of SMEs.
The strategy should be based on a set of result-oriented principles, be driven by a clear, structured and effective governance monitoring its concrete implementation both at the European and national level and ensure that all growth-related EU strategies include clear aims in terms of promoting SME growth.
SMEs are a driver of economic growth, key players in cross-sectoral and cross-regional value chains, enablers of innovation and account for two thirds of the total job creation in the EU. Together with larger companies, they also have a central role to play in achieving an economically competitive EU including environmental and social goals. However, without profitable companies, no inclusive growth, jobs, nor technological solutions can be maintained and further developed to enhance our societies and protect the environment.
In our Prosperity, People and Planet agenda for the EU BusinessEurope already identified 30 priority areas which are relevant to all-sized companies. Building on this, it is essential to support SMEs strongly, taking account of their diversity in terms of size, age or sector, and to recognise the role played by mid-caps in the economy, which should also be strategically addressed at the EU level.
This paper focuses on SMEs. For the policy areas which are the most relevant to them – such as better regulation, the single market, internationalisation, sustainability and circular economy, digital transformation, innovation, access to finance and skills – we provide an outline of what is at stake, what the situation is today and we propose 50 SME-specific actions.