COVID-19 has been a tsunami for SMEs. The EU’s proposed new SME strategy, which predates the crisis, fails to cope with the huge challenges that have since jumped to the fore, says the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) in a recently adopted opinion.
COVID-19 has dealt a very serious blow to SMEs across Europe, many of which risk being swept out of business in its wake.
How can the new EU strategy for SMEs, which was put forward before the pandemic and has not been overhauled since, help the sector cope with the aftermath, asks the EESC in an opinion on the European Commission’s draft strategy adopted at its September plenary.
“What we really need at this point in time is a sort of ‘Next Generation EU strategy’ for SMEs, putting together all there is for SMEs under the huge umbrella of loans and grants from the Recovery plan for Europe to mitigate the negative effects of the lockdown, social distancing and health security measures and help businesses recover quickly”, says opinion rapporteur Milena Angelova.
SME organisations to cover the last mile
SME organisations ought to have a pivotal role in the successful implementation of the strategy, as they can ensure that the needs of all different groups of SMEs are met and can shape any follow-up measures that may be needed.
Instead, the strategy mainly relies on existing national SME envoys, a new EU SME envoy and the Enterprise Europe Network.
But the EESC points out that the network of national SME envoys, which represent Member States’ authorities in charge of SME policy, is not fully operational in all Member States. It also stresses that, as SME envoys come from the administration, they need to stay in constant contact with SME organisations and listen attentively to their advice, if they are to play a useful role. Continue reading “EU calls for a Next Generation EU strategy for SMEs”