Sandro Gozi: ‘We have to ensure genuinely SME friendly legislative environment’

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 jobs, growth, innovation, and competitiveness. They are important contributors to green and digital transition and bring about creativity, prosperity, and economic expansion.

As policy makers, we need to demonstrate our political will to support Europe’s SMEs in meeting the new challenges and becoming globally competitive. We need a clear vision and strategy on SMEs that would put them at the centre of our single market policies, industrial strategy, and international trade.

From the perspective of our work in the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection, we know for a fact: Europe’s SMEs need a well-functioning single market, adapted to the new challenges of green and digital transition. Therefore, we should remain ambitious in completing our single market, including for services, by removing the existing barriers, fostering implementation and enforcement of EU legislation and further liberalization. Furthermore, we need to modernise our single market rules, reduce administrative burden and enhance opportunities for innovation, digitalisation and internationalisation of SMEs. We have to ensure genuinely SME friendly legislative environment with better access to finance, more opportunities for procurement contracts, more investments in SMEs digitalisation efforts, and support SMEs contribution to sustainable single market and circular economy.

Clearly, red tape and regulatory burden remain some of the main obstacles for SMEs. Therefore, we should consistently and vigorously continue to apply the ‘think small first’ principle in any future legislation. Furthermore, we should ensure that single information points on both national and EU level are effectively put in place. We should encourage the use of instruments such as the Single Digital Gateway. We should ensure that there is easily accessible information to SMEs on already existing and future funding opportunities. Guaranteeing access to EU collective redress mechanism are of crucial importance as well.

Furthermore, we need to create a genuine digital single market that will support the growth and competitiveness of SMEs in their digital transformation and innovation efforts. We have to remove any unjustified barriers arising from national rules, and create clear regulatory framework for economic operators that will ensure transparency, legal certainty and opportunities for SMEs. We should encourage investments in development of new products and services, such as AI. Ensuring better access to data for SMEs is also of crucial importance. We should consider further measures that facilitate SMEs access to skills, talents and external advice and that help SMEs to grow and scale up globally.

Last but not least, we need to create a genuine sustainable single market, facilitating sustainable production and consumption to become the norm. We need to set favorable framework conditions, and rules that create advantages for European SMEs to contribute to sustainability and circular economy. In other words — to make them embrace the sustainability agenda as a source of opportunities.

As policy makers, we should make the interests of SMEs our priority in every single file. Currently, we put lots of emphasis on measures that would create incentives for SMEs to be protagonists in green and digital transition in our work on Digital Services Act, Digital Markets Act, Data Governance Act, the AI package and the New Consumer Agenda. We should continue doing so in any upcoming proposals.

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