Europe’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are a vital engine of the European economy. The challenges that European SMEs are facing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic need unprecedented and coordinated EU effort.
The Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament has adopted a position paper on SMEs, in order to take actions to maximise the impact of existing support measures, whilst defining its long-term programme to protect SMEs. Renew Europe's priorities for SMEs include: more opportunities for procurement contracts, better access to finance, putting an end to late payments to SMEs, cutting administrative burdens, more investments across Europe and a supportive SME friendly legislative environment, among others.
Renew Europe wants to see SMEs visibly at the centre of the EU’s plans. The Group calls for the European Commission to come forward with a ‘State of the SME Union’ type of review and debate, to be held annually in the European Parliament’s plenary sitting. SMEs should be at the core of the long-term strategy for European industrial recovery.
Martina Dlabajová MEP, Renew Europe Coordinator of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, outlines the group’s initiative:
"There was a need to refocus our policy making towards SMEs way before COVID-19 hit our economies. This crisis has shown us how vulnerable SMEs are, and they deserve our full attention.
SMEs should be at the centre of the Recovery package and the multiannual EU budget. We need to put SMEs at the core of the European long-term industrial strategy and the Single Market. This is why we give a commitment to work on EU initiatives by “Thinking Small First”. We want to work towards a genuinely SME friendly legislative environment in which SMEs can harness the opportunities of innovation, digitalisation and internationalisation.
In order to not lose the SME focus in years ahead, we also insist on placing SMEs at the centre of our debate and are calling for an annual State of the SME Union type of Plenary discussion."
Ondřej Kovařík MEP, member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs responsible for SMEs, added:
“The importance of SMEs to the EU economy has always been evident - yet the COVID crisis has made us realise just how vital they are. We therefore need SME related actions to be at the heart of the EU’s recovery plan. Right now, SMEs need access to finance. The SME window in the InvestEU programme should serve as the main tool in the EU’s arsenal to directly finance SMEs. Deepening the Capital Markets Union (CMU) is also a unique opportunity to increase investments in SMEs.
Without deeper capital markets, economic growth in Europe may remain subdued in the medium term, hindering innovation and the growth potential of SMEs. For policy makers, the financial industry and SMEs themselves, it is more important than ever that EU level measures reduce red tape, facilitate access to finance and encourage a diversification of funding sources. COVID crisis has also highlighted the need for SMEs to invest in digitalisation. It would be useful therefore to support SMEs in their digital transition, including in terms of digital finance and financial literacy.”
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