EPP Group notes success in promoting SMEs to drive EU economy



Edited Package
It's very difficult to be a small business…

It's very difficult, very difficult. We're there 12 hours, 13 hours a day.

There's a lot of stress, a lot of enthusiasm. It's new every day – it's only been 10 days, so it's really the very very very beginning.
You have to manage the times of crisis. It's not always easy.

How well small and medium-size businesses are doing is a good indication of how well the European economy is doing overall. That's because SMEs create nearly 9 out of every 10 jobs. And that's why the European Parliament has made it a priority to give SMEs a better chance to thrive, in a highly competitive global market.
The EPP Group's Paul Rübig has spearheaded a years-long effort to cut costs and slash red tape for SMEs to give those firms a boost in Europe and beyond.
We've seen that the start-up business has to play a very important role, so we want to see that within three days as an example, or within the limit of 100 euro.
The Rübig Report, adopted by the European parliament, calls for a reduction in costs for founding new SMEs via so-called one-stop shops that assist entrepreneurs in getting started.
If we want to get rid of unemployment, we need more qualified entrepreneurs. That's why I wrote a book on more freedom for entrepreneurs. That's very important for all of us. We also created a program, Erasmus for young entrepreneurs, where we exchange entrepreneurs in different countries, to get experience from their suppliers, their customers.
That program can help get entrepreneurs thinking beyond borders. So far only 25% of SMEs are active in Europe's internal market, and only half that internationally. Antonio Tajani is EU Commissioner for Industry and a member of the EPP.
If you want to work on the internationalization of our small and medium-size companies. Unfortunately only 13% of our companies are working abroad. For this it is important to work all together. The European Commission wants to back classes – at universities, with big companies, small and medium-size companies, all together, for more competitiveness, and also for a good access of finance, also European funds.
In the Parliament, Rübig sought to lift roadblocks for SMEs, leading an effort to prevent national laws from hindering them.
In the member states, we've established a so-called SME test, where national legislators can check how legislation could help SMEs in the future. And I think the SME test has to be enforced more heavily on the member states level.
The business community believes the European Parliament can play a leading role in promoting SMEs. Arnaldo Abruzzini, is secretary general of the business association Eurochambres,
The Parliament is the only elected body at European level. They represent our interests.
One of those interests is research and development. The EPP Group is pushing for SMEs to get 15% of the EU's 80bn euro Horizon 2020 budget for R&D.
That would be a very good target. If we do not account for a certain amount of money to finance that process, we risk to lose the SME capacity to innovate. Yes, 15% is a good figure.
Many SMEs have profited from the Internet, and the EPP Group has pushed for an effective framework to open up Europe's digital single market by 2015.
Late payments have hampered that single market and the supply chain throughout Europe, as much as two months or more in some countries. The EPP Group successfully pushed for legislation limiting invoice payment deadlines to 30 days.
We have at least the 30 days there, with some exemptions. But the trend is going consequently into this direction.
Abruzzini welcomes the rules, and urges all EU28 to fully enforce them. He says so far only two have fully complied.
Certainly the contribution of the European Parliament in promoting the culture of payment on time has been very important. And the fact that they have passed the legislation on late payment represents a good step ahead. But that is not enough. That is not enough. Because in reality what member states are doing is they have transposed the directive but they have not implemented it.
That's why the business community sees the glass half full when it comes to reform.
The parliament in perspective I think is positive, but definitely we need much more. Because the economy represented in large by SMEs is fragile, and we need to take care about this.
Rübig agrees it's a work in progress. His new book, titled "Businesses Require Freedom", calls for further measures ahead.
The principle is, our work is to give freedom to entrepreneurs. And we want to support especially women entrepreneurs and migrants, and new types of entrepreneurs. So self-employment should play a heavier role. And that's what we want to fight for, that the rethinking, the reboost of our economy has to start in our head.
No one can claim unmitigated success in boosting SMEs in Europe – times are still tough for entrepreneurs. But the European Parliament has taken steps to remove obstacles and multiply the opportunities for SMEs, on which European economy so deeply depends for its recovery.
Find out more about the activities of the largest political force in parliament by checking eppgroup.eu. Thanks for watching and see you again soon.
EPP Group notes success in promoting SMEs to drive EU economy
Cutting red tape and costs, speeding formation of small and medium-size businesses, and funding more R&D for them, are ways the European Parliament, with leadership from the EPP Group, has boosted SMEs to spur more growth and job-creation in Europe. MEPs and business leaders agree more efforts are needed in the future.
SMEs, economy, red tape, Paul Rübig, Arnaldo Abruzzini, Antonio Tajani, Eurochambres, EPP, European Parliament, European commission, Brussels
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  • Ioannis Zografos
    EPP TV Managing Producer
    +32(0) 2 284 18 45