The European SME Strategy was announced on 10 March 2020 in a Communication from the European Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. The Strategy aims to contribute to the objectives of the European Green Deal, the Digital Decade, and other EU actions launched in the context of the twin digital and green transition, namely achieving a climate-neutral, resource-efficient, and agile digital economy, by mobilising European small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across industrial sectors. Actions, launched within the framework of the European Strategy for SMEs aim to bring results across 3 main pillars, with some ongoing and some planned over the course of upcoming months and years:
Capacity-building and support for the transition to sustainability and digitalisation
- Providing SMEs with tailored support when it comes to knowledge-sharing and services on sustainability through Enterprise Europe Network (EEN)’s 600 members, including dedicated Sustainability Advisors.
- Facilitating access to the European network of more than 200 Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) for SMEs on regional level to enable them to tap into opportunities offered by advanced digital and AI-related tools.
- Offering concrete training and upskilling opportunities, financed through the Digital Europe Programme (DIGITAL) tailored to SMEs: crash courses on digital and key emerging technologies – AI, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT) and others.
- Supporting businesses to access a talent pool of skilled workforce through the Digital Volunteers initiative.
Reducing regulatory burden and improving market access
- Supporting cross-border activities within the European Single Market and on an international level, especially in the context of scaling up.
- Providing relevant and updated information on accounting legislation, tax considerations and specifics.
Improving access to finance
Support to SMEs in this area has been mobilised under the framework of the COSME programme as well as the European Social Fund. Actions include:
- Boosting of the ‘Loan Guarantee Facility’ (LGF) to facilitate financing on all levels for SMEs, in particular on working capital, and flexibility on repayments of existing loans, as well as bridging private and public financing schemes.
- Facilitating access to relevant and updated information on financing instruments and mechanisms and providing guidance to businesses.
To deliver results, the new SME Strategy will be underpinned by a robust partnership between the EU and EU countries, including regional and local authorities aiming to support the creation of a more sustainable and digitally enabled business environment and offer opportunities for the further development of key European industrial sectors.