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Boosting SMEs, the heart of Europe's economy

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, was also the capital of European small and medium-sized enterprises for the SME Assembly.

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Boosting SMEs, the heart of Europe's economy

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Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, was also the capital of European small and medium-sized enterprises for the SME Assembly.

Point of view

Everybody has a say, everyone can contribute.

André Meyer European SME Envoys Network

Three days of conferences and workshops organised by the European Commission to bring together entrepreneurs, economists and policy makers.

Giving SMEs a say in policy-making

“What’s interesting for SMEs is to have a chance to directly influence politicians and others players in the way policies are implemented. Everybody has a say, everyone can contribute,” the European Commission’s André Meyer told Euronews.

One of the major topics was how to improve SMEs’ access to public procurement. Outside of the financial sector, 99,8% of all European companies are small and medium sized enterprises, but they only get 45% of public contracts, a share Brussels would like to boost to 58%.

“This is a huge market, this is more than 2 trillion euros annually that are being bid into public procurements,” said Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, in charge of Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. “So it is important for us really to see SMEs there, in this market.”

Boosting access to public contracts for SMEs

In order to achieve this, the European Commission launched an initiative last October to make public procurement procedures more efficient, professional and transparent.

“The most important thing for us in Europe must be efficiency. Efficiency in the way we spend money, not the lowest price criteria. The European directive allows us criteria that are connected with innovation, with the environment, with energy efficiency, with the social aspects of the project. And that’s where SMEs are always better because they are closer to real life,” added Elżbieta Bieńkowska.

The aim is to strengthen the single market, including in the sensitive Defence sector, while boosting investment.

Rewarding entreprise promotion

The annual gathering is also the opportunity to reward initiatives that successfully promote entrepreneurship in Europe. This year, the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) Grand Jury Prize went to a Dutch project, Innofest. Director Anna van Nunen was delighted.

“90% of all innovations fail and it’s often the case because it’s not tested before it’s brought to the market. That’s where Innofest comes in,” she told Euronews. “We work with eight well-known Dutch festivals, and we offer those festivals to entrepreneurs as a living lab for innovation testing. It’s been difficult to set us up because it’s entirely new. So to earn such a prize after two years of struggling and setting this up, it’s just such a big support.”

A total of 18 projects were rewarded, including a programme to help businesses develop internationally launched by a collective from Austria – the host country of next year’s SME Assembly.