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Polityka Unii Europejskiej wobec MSP

Europe’s small and medium-sized enterprises are the motor of the European economy and the main drivers for achieving sustainable growth and more and better jobs. At EU level, the European Commission has developed a comprehensive SME policy, which aims to ensure that Community policies and actions are small-business friendly and contribute to making Europe a more attractive place for setting up a company and doing business.

Small and medium-sized enterprises – in principle firms with fewer than 250 employees, with annual turnover of less than €50 million, and independent of larger enterprises – make up the backbone of the European economy. Across the EU, there are around 23 million SMEs; that is 99% of all enterprises. And SMEs account for about 75 million jobs. And in some key industries, such as textiles, construction and furniture-making, they account for as much as 80% of all jobs.

But whilst the importance of Europe’s SMEs, in economic terms, is widely recognised, there are simply not enough entrepreneurs and SMEs growing and creating new jobs. There are two major reasons for this: first, not enough European citizens are attracted to the professional challenges and risks of starting or running an SME; and second, legislation and regulation complicates the  work of SMEs and/or adds to their costs, not least in respect of taking on additional employees.

The over-riding challenge for the European Union and its Member States is to create conditions in which entrepreneurs are encouraged to follow their ideas through, where the attractions and potential gains outweigh more clearly the costs and inevitable risks of starting an enterprise. Moreover, the conditions in which businesses operate need to be reviewed, to remove those unnecessary and disproportionate costs and procedures which stifle the creativity and growth of smaller enterprises.
Making the difference

The European Union has competences in many policy areas which directly affect SMEs. Moreover, in some of these, competence is shared between the EU, Member States and their regions. Success in making Europe an SME-friendly business environment will therefore require concerted efforts from all relevant authorities to ensure the various policies complement each other.

In 2005, the European Commission adopted its ‘Modern SME policy for growth and employment’. This aims to ensure that all aspects of EU policy to help SMEs are coordinated, and that the needs of SMEs are more fully assessed in drawing up such policies. The policy includes action in five areas:
Promoting entrepreneurship and skills
Improving SMEs’ access to markets
Cutting red tape
Improving SMEs’ growth potential
Strengthening dialogue and consultation with SME stakeholders

Early and wide consultation with SME representatives is essential, so that they can have meaningful input in the policy-making process, and central to the ‘modern SME policy’. One way of doing this is through the EU-funded network of Euro Info Centres, which assist SMEs in particular to obtain information on EU policies and actions, and can consult quickly with firms in their region on specific policy questions.

The Better Regulation initiative is a comprehensive review of all existing EU legislation, to reassess whether its aims remain necessary, and whether the means used to achieve them could be simplified. The Commission has called for Member States to undertake the same exercise at national level, highlighting the potential for a saving of as much as 25% in firms’ administration costs. Furthermore, the ‘Think first’ principle ensures that legislative proposals are all assessed for their impact on SMEs, and where necessary adapted to make them SME-friendly.

Under the modern SME policy, the Commission seeks to highlight examples of successful initiatives and encourage Member States and regions to learn from each other. For example, the European Enterprise Awards highlight and reward regional initiatives with strong results in encouraging small businesses. Furthermore, by encouraging and supporting networking across Europe, the Commission aims to help SMEs gain easier access to new markets outside their own country.

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