Dragoș Pîslaru: ‘SMEs bring an added value in almost every sector of the economy’
SMEs are the backbone of Europe’s economic and social ecosystem, and the main drivers for regional and national development. Currently, SMEs employ approximately 100 million people, equalling more than half of Europe’s GDP. As a Renew member of ECON Committee and EMPL coordinator, I see SMEs as indispensable actors in boosting economic growth, spreading innovation, creating new jobs, and fostering social cohesion.
Europe’s SMEs are highly diverse. They bring an added value in almost every sector of the economy, but in the same time face a variety of different challenges. In my role as member of the Group SME Taskforce, my goal is to support diversity and advocate for adaptability of solutions that would fit and provide support to all those 25 billion SMEs across Europe in being competitive, resilient, and sustainable. To achieve this task and harness the true potential of the SMEs we need to embrace a three-dimensional approach that addresses financial support for SMEs, the structure of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and development of our strategic autonomy.
Financial vulnerability and access to funding are the most pressing issues for SMEs. These have been highlighted especially in the context of the pandemic that affected the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem likewise, regardless of the size of the entities. It is time to reaffirm through our actions, the European commitment and solidarity in supporting SMEs. To do so, we have to focus on placing actions that facilitate access to funding and financial support for SMEs at the centre of EU’s recovery plans and programmes. Nevertheless, investments cannot come without high quality human resources that are able to develop, implement, and monitor projects. As a result, we need to further stimulate training and skills development of SMEs experts, as well as financial education programmes, and adequate financial management.
Additionally, we have to shift our attention towards enabling social impact investments. SMEs as the source of innovative and creative solutions, merged with the high degree of competitiveness between the entities is the most efficient formula in developing the best solutions for tackling societal challenges. This approach does not only generate a positive impact but also benefits the entities due to the increase of profitability and sustainability of the business. In order to capitalize on the full potential of the SMEs in achieving the goals of climate-neutrality, resource efficiency and agile digital economy, we should identify and diversify social impact funds and facilitate access to them.
A second key issue we need to work on is the development of a strong network of SMEs, through the creation of clusters and Digital Innovation Hubs. Under the 2030 Policy Programme ‘A path to the Digital Decade’, multi-country projects will facilitate investments in the establishment of these one-stop-shops. The Hubs are the motor for the digital transformation of businesses, making them able to integrate digital solutions in the daily activity and increase their competitiveness on the market. Our role is to further promote and identify synergies between initiatives at Union and national level in the development of hubs as supporting pillars for the SMEs.
Furthermore, we need to focus on providing measures to support the development and expansion of SMEs in areas that display a great entrepreneurial interest. A higher degree of density generates more competition, increases the aggregate productivity, and results in better solutions and overall efficiency of the economic environment. To achieve this goal we have to identify ‘interest’ zones and implement measures focused on reducing barriers to enter the market, stimulate entrepreneurial education, and provide development opportunities in these particular areas.
Last, but not least, we need to think about developing our strategic autonomy. In this sense, our SMEs need to expand on our key value chains, in line with the EU Industrial Strategy. We need to maximize our potential for disruptive innovation, to explore new sustainable technologies, to invest in renewable energy sectors, and to increase our role as main producer in key fields.
I believe that the success of our efforts in supporting SMEs relies on our ability as members of different committees to build on the SME Strategy for a sustainable and digital Europe and identify actions that we can exploit on different segments. In this regard, I am fully dedicated towards integrating the needs of SMEs in the future files and initiatives to come.