In the summer of 2020, we published a policy paper, Our Commitment Towards European SMEs (Renew Europe outlines its priorities to protect SMEs in a post pandemic landscape), in which we outlined key SME related actions to be taken at European level, and - crucially - put forward an overall commitment to always look at EU initiatives and legislation through an “SME lens”.
SMEs are a very important part of Europe : there are some 24 million of them, together representing around 99% of all companies in the EU. This is important, as SMEs employ 100 million Europeans and they are a vital source of creativity, innovation & job creation. It is important, as the EU Single Market is critical for our small businesses and innovators. We need to seek ways to help SMEs find opportunities across Europe and beyond, while always keeping the ‘think small first’ and better regulation principles in mind in our policy work. Our goal is a predictable, SME friendly legislative environment.
The Renew Europe SME Taskforce
Europe’s SMEs are hugely diverse and a one-size-fits-all approach will not do. The range of issues we need to tackle also varies enormously. This is why we established a permanent SME Taskforce within our Group. The SME Taskforce includes MEPs from all Parliament committees and they represent several Member States. Their promise: to always consider Commission proposals, legislation and other EU actions through the “SME lens” as well as prioritizing & promoting SMEs in policy work.
Keeping in mind that SME responsibilities are an important part of the portfolios of both Commission Executive Vice-President Margarethe Vestager and Commissioner Thierry Breton, it is safe to say that Renew Europe is the political family that will deliver for Europe’s start-ups, entrepreneurs, innovators and SMEs.
Renew Europe SME Taskforce commitments
Martina Dlabajova, MEP
“Our European economy is strongly based on the success of SMEs, if we want them to flourish and unleash further talent, entrepreneurship and growth, we policymakers cannot ever forget that no company was born big. We are on the verge of an industrial transformation that lies more than ever on technology and innovation: from Industrial Alliances to R&I Partnerships, we need to ensure our SMEs are active and successful players.”
Sandro Gozi, MEP
Europe’s SMEs employ around 100 million people, account for more than half of Europe’s GDP, and make up 99 % of the EU’s businesses. They are the backbone of Europe's economy: drivers for growth and innovation, and important contributors to green and digital transition. The current COVID crisis exposed the vulnerabilities of Europe's SMEs and demonstrated the urgent need for us as policy makers to put them at the center of our single market policies, industrial strategy, and international trade. We need single market with clear and simple rules, reduced administrative burden and enhanced opportunities for innovation, digitalization and internationalization of SMEs. We need to ensure genuinely SME friendly legislative environment with better access to finance, more opportunities for procurement contracts, more investments in SMEs digitalization efforts, and accelerated take up of their digital solutions. We should encourage and support SMEs contribution to sustainable single market and circular economy.
Mauri PEKKARINEN, MEP
“SMEs are vital for jobs, economic growth, creativity & innovation. In my work in the Parliament's Industry Committee, as well as other committees I deal with, I always try to think about legislation & initiatives from the point of view of the small players.“
Liesje Schreinemacher, MEP
”SMEs are vital for the European economy. These entrepreneurs, including startups, self-employed and family businesses, create jobs, make innovative products and ultimately all contribute to our economic recovery. In the IMCO and JURI committees I will continue to focus on reducing administrative burden, better access to financing and the secure sharing of data.”
Susana SOLÍS PÉREZ, MEP
“SMEs are the power cells of the European economy and central to the EU’s twin transitions to a sustainable and digital economy. They are essential to Europe’s competitiveness and prosperity and to economic and technological sovereignty. SMEs have the potential to transform areas facing geographical or demographic challenges such as rural and depopulated areas or the outermost regions.
Therefore, from the REGI perspective a key priority will be to promote actions to support SMEs in rural areas and regions through facilitating access to finance and EU funds, digitalization, reskilling and upskilling and through promoting the creation of regulatory sandboxes to stimulate innovation in rural areas.”
Atidzhe ALIEVA-VELI, MEP
“As a Renew EMPL committee member, I have always been interested in and supported topics related to development of the SMEs. During the Pandemic, many of them accomplished to integrate new working methods, but all enterprises were enormously affected by the posed restrictions.
Now, more than ever, we have to ensure better and competitive work environment for SMEs. They should be in the heart of EU legislation. The Green deal will have serious impact on EU economy. Obviously, the aim of the old continent to be carbon-neutral is a historic opportunity for an economic revolution and an unprecedented chance to implement digitalization in almost every field of work. In order to ensure successful transition, SMEs will have a great need of well-educated and qualified employees. Having on mind this, we must support the innovation and find the way to provide them more opportunities and environment for developing. Without a single doubt, SMEs should have access to adequate and timely information about the available financial opportunities that suit them the best. We have to make sure that they are using their full potential at exploring the Single market and benefit from it the most.”
Dragoș Pîslaru, MEP
“SMEs are a vital component in the European economic and social systems, and as the pandemic hit we recognised their importance once again, but we also witnessed the challenges they faced. As a Renew member of ECON Committee and EMPL coordinator, I see SMEs as the backbone of our economy and as an indispensable source of jobs. The innovation that they bring to the table shapes our present and we have the duty to protect our SMEs and to offer them support.”
Ondřej KOVAŘÍK, MEP
“SMEs are the backbone of EU’s economy, forming 99% of all EU businesses. My focus is on easing the processes in accessing finance and improving digitalization of our SMEs. Their role is also essential in EU’s recovery. This is why I have been working on ensuring that SMEs know how to apply and receive funds through RRF and InvestEU.”
Mihaylova Iskra, MEP
”Renew Europe SMEs taskforce can support European Union`s Small and Medium enterprises by their efforts to achieve cooperation with the markets and business partners from the developing countries. In this way they can support the creation of innovative, modern and high technological entrepreneurships in these countries.”
Nicola Danti, MEP
“99% of businesses, 50% of the EU's GDP, employing over 100 million people: SMEs are the fabric of our economy, with their creativity, innovation, know-how and ability to tackle change. But their size can sometimes present challenges when it comes to global competition. That's why Renew Europe is committed to building a business-friendly regulatory environment where SMEs can thrive, also on the global stage. Thus we must enhance internationalization of SMEs further, also by including a dedicated SME chapter in the EU's trade agreements, to take into account their needs in entering third country markets.”
Morten Lokkegaard, MEP
“Our European societies are deeply dependent on small and medium sized companies. They create jobs and growth across member states. Both in European cities and the rural areas. Exactly for these reasons the fight for SMEs is a constant top priority for Renew Europe. But it is important to remember that SMEs contribute with much more than economic opportunities: All Europeans enjoy a vast selection of cultural experiences. The cultural and creative sector only thrive because of the SMEs producing exciting entertainment in theaters, venues, cinemas and much more. They help us strengthen our national and European identities by forming narratives for all of us to be inspired by. Therefore, we need to support the businesses in the sector. Unfortunately, the corona crisis has hit the cultural and creative sector very hard, and the situation increases the need for political attention. We need to create opportunities for SMEs - and assist them in their effort to guarantee Europeans memorable cultural experiences.”
SMEs & Covid-19
The pandemic has made everyone realize just how vital our SMEs are for the European economy, especially as the crisis has placed huge numbers of SMEs in a precarious financial position: many have had to close their doors and millions of jobs continue to be at risk. If improving SMEs access to finance was essential prior to the crisis, it has since become crucial for their very survival.
Many SMEs have shown resilience during the crisis, and we are convinced that SMEs will be at the heart of the long-term recovery. SMEs will use Europe’s skilled workforce and lead the twin digital and green transition, contributing massively to Europe’s sustainable future growth.
The State of the SMEs Union
If we are to place SMEs even more visibly at the center of the EU’s plans and policies, it is important that progress is reviewed and monitored on an on-going basis. This is why (in our policy paper) we came up with the idea of having an annual debate in the Parliament’s Plenary sitting: the State of the SMEs Union. We put the wheels in motion fast, and the first Plenary debate took place in the June 2021 Plenary already.
We intend to improve this event further in years ahead, making sure that future debates will be accompanied by better and more timely data, using for example the Commission’s SME Strategy Implementation and the SME Performance Review reports as well as better regulation tools & indicators as a basis.
Should you have good ideas or suggestions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with any of our SME Taskforce members!