The office of ALDE Rebecca Taylor reports back from the EuroCommerce SME Day

SMEs are the backbone of the twenty three million companies based in the EU, and Eurocommerce’s SME day (10 Oct 2012) was a chance for representatives from the European Parliament and Commission, as well as SME associations and entrepreneurs themselves, to come together and look at concrete steps needed to create an economic environment favourable to SME growth while encouraging entrepreneurship in people of all ages and backgrounds. Continue reading

Kaleidoscopic start into a long SME autumn

After the summer break activities with the aim of fostering SMEs became visible again. Here is a kaleidoscopic overview of what ALDE and many other players have recently done on a European scale.

The 18th September, a busy day with many committee meetings and votes in the European Parliament, showed in several aspects how the aims of our campaign have become a reality.

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Increasing trust in cross-border commerce

Less than 10% of EU companies sell cross border within the EU and the majority of them limits themselves to a maximum of only 3 different member states. When it comes to online sales, 43 % of EU consumers have purchased goods or services (mainly films, music, books, software) online in the last year. Europe still lags behind the US and Asian markets are quickly catching up.

The obstacles for SMEs to benefit from e-commerce in the single market have been addressed yesterday at an ALDE conference at the European Parliament within the context of its campaign “Boost SMEs!”. The contributions of two panels highlighted the various obstacles as well as proposals on how to overcome these obstacles. Continue reading

A day in life of the SME campaign

This May Tuesday in Brussels is plenty of rain showers, so everyone in the Parliament can easily focus on his working duties. Several activites are on the agenda or lay on the campaign secretariat’s desk. The biggest topic is a three hour ALDE seminar on ‘Horizon 2020′, the EU framework programme for research and innovation. The interest is huge: Due to almost 200 accreditations the seminar has to move to a bigger room. Romanian MEP Cristian Busoi and his Danish colleague Jens Rohde underline the ALDE support for the programme’s general outline. Continue reading

Late payments: Cyprus transposes earlier

Cyprus is on board for the earlier transposition of the late payment directive. Asked in a meeting in Nicosia, Cyprus by ALDE member Cristian BUSOI, the Cypriot Minister of Commerce and Industry, Neoklis SYLIKIOTIS, said that the transposition process is almost completed. This is good news for SMEs in Cyprus. Thus one more EU member speeds up on late payments, a target which the ALDE group is advocating for in its campaign “Boost SMEs”.

The late payment directive is designed to combat the late payment for goods or services within the European Union. The EU member states have time until January 2013 to transpose the directive. But as late payments pose a major problem for smaller businesses, ALDE urges the member states to transpose the directive as soon as possible. Every day of earlier implementation counts for SMEs.

Links for SME in Europe

On this page, we want to give you basic information and the links to services and organisations that may be interesting for you when you are a SME in Europe.

Funding:

EU finance for small and medium-sized enterprises – if you are looking for financial intermediaries providing finances for SMEs at national level, visit this website and choose the country you are interested in:

 http://www.access2finance.eu/

 or at the website of the European Investment Bank (EIB)

http://www.eib.org/projects/topics/sme/intermediaries/europe.htm?lang=en

EU Support Programmes for SMEs

Here you can find an overview in your language of the main funding opportunities available to SMEs

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/newsroom/cf/itemdetail.cfm?item_id=5778&tpa=0&tk=&lang=en

The webpage on funding opportunities of DG Enterprise

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Let’s get to work! Au travail!

A first major project since our campaign started, is a discussion in the European Parliament on a new EU programme to support SMEs

“COSME 2014-2020″ is the title of the PowerPoint presentation that Daniel Calleja Crespo, the general director at the European Commission in charge, showed this Monday to a big audience at the EP in Brussels. At first glance the title reads like a project for EU space policy, but it stands for “Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises” – and there we go with our campaign!

COSME is intended to continue the non-innovation aspects of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) which runs, with a special focus on SMEs, from 2007 to 2013 with an overall budget of € 3.6 billion. The other elements of CIP will be continued within the next framework programme for research and innovation, Horizon 2020.

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The night of the launch

The tent between Place Luxembourg and the European Parliament was packed (ma non troppo), last night at 19.48 h, when the coordinator of the ALDE campaign on SMEs, Jürgen Creutzmann, declared the campaign officially opened. Such a solemn ritual may remind you of the Olympic Games opening ceremony, but we left out all that pyromaniac torch stuff, however, we will be working for two years instead of just two weeks which those short-winded olympiads have to face.

Before, Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the ALDE group, had introduced into the campaign, explaining why and how the Liberals and Democrats aim to fulfil their commitments towards SMEs from now until the next European elections in 2014. He was followed by Antonio Tajani, the European Commissioner in charge of the enterprise portfolio, whose important participation increased the impact of the event. Tajani demonstrated in a relatively full (and well-received) speech how much he sees the ALDE targets in line with the Commission plans on the Small Business Act and further COM projects. While the Italian spoke in French, Sabine Laruelle, the Belgian minister for SMEs (in office since the Verhofstadt era) sacrificed her mother tongue and prepared her speech in English. She explained, how a policy actively favouring SMEs can bring concrete results – just the right inspiration for our campaign!

In Jürgen Creutzmann’s final intervention he lead the evening’s second symbolic act (which in politics helps to unite and to visualize): Members of Parliament, but also Minister Laruelle and representants of SME associations, put their signatures under the big SME campaign manifesto which defines the 22 fields of actions to work on. As he hadn’t been able to convince in advance all his 26 colleagues to co-sign, the Commissioner had to abstain from this exercise. But there will certainly be many more occasions during the campaign to sign agreements with the Commission, so no worries about that!

A full video of the evening can be found here.