Archive pour la catégorie ‘SME Policy’

EU Funding: First steps of the European “Small Business Act”

Lundi 21 juillet 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants for actions in relation to access to finance for the start-up and growth of SMEs and for investment in innovation activities.
 New financial instrument to facilitate to SMEs the obtention of equity and risk capital necessary to their growth
 New financial instrument to facilitate to SMEs the obtention of bank guarantees

On 18 July, the twenty-seven internal market and industry ministers worked on established a ‘European Small Business Act’ for SMEs

The internal market and industry ministers of the Member States of the European Union and the European Free Trade Area met for debates moderated by the chairman of the Competitiveness Council, meeting in its internal market and industry configuration, Hervé Novelli, French Minister of State for Business, Trades, Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Tourism and Services, and Jean-Pierre Jouyet, Minister of State for European Affairs, in the presence of three members of the European Commission - Günther Verheugen, Charlie McCreevy and Neelie Kroes - and Philippe Maystadt, President of the European Investment Bank.

The discussions focused on the European Small Business Act, i.e. a set of measures designed to create more favourable conditions for the growth and development of European SMEs (for example, with regard to public procurement contracts). Access to funding for SMEs was also discussed in a working lunch with Andrea Benassi, the Secretary General of the UEAPME (the European professional organisation for craft and SMEs). The ministers also voiced their support for the draft statute for a European Private Company proposed by European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy. This single company form would reduce the costs for SMEs adapting to 27 different national types of company law.

The ministers exchanged views on the EU’s strategy in a globalised economy, in particular on the Commission’s proposals aimed at supporting research and innovation and offering better access to public procurement contracts in third countries. They emphasised the comparative advantage given to the European Union by intellectual property and the need to protect intellectual property rights. The ministers expressed their wish for the European Union and its Member States to intensify their efforts in the fight against counterfeiting and their positive expectations with regard to the proposal of a strategy for industrial property rights in Europe that the Commission adopted on 16 July 2008.

 
  Source:
French Presidency of the EU

Eu funding: “Think Small First”: A Small Business Act for Europe

Mercredi 25 juin 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants within the frame of the DG Enterprise and Industry annual work programme concerning very specific projects

Most jobs in the EU are provided for by Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), companies of 250 employees or less.

They have a crucial importance for the future development, but very often face enormous bureaucratic hurdles and obstacles. European SMEs deserve to be better assisted to fully unlock their potential of long term sustainable growth and of more job creation. To achieve this goal, the European Commission has unveiled today the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA), based on ten guiding principles and proposes policy actions to be undertaken by both the Commission and Member States.

The Commission is proposing a genuine political partnership between the EU and the Member States reflecting the political willingness to recognise the central role of SMEs in the EU economy and to put in place for the first time a comprehensive policy framework for the EU and its Member States. The SBA proposal goes hand in hand with the recently announced plans of the European Investment Bank Group to simplify, modernise and diversify the range of its instruments to support SMEs.

At the heart of the SBA is the conviction that achieving the best possible framework conditions for SMEs depends first and foremost on society’s recognition of entrepreneurs, including crafts, micro-enterprises, family owned or social economy enterprises, and making the option of starting one’s own business attractive. This means that the rather negative perception of the role of entrepreneurs and risk-taking in the EU must change.

The European Small Business Act sets out 10 principles which should be adopted at the highest political level and concrete measures that will make life easier for small businesses. After consulting with businesses and their representatives, the European Commission has also resolved to propose new legislation in four areas that particularly affect SMEs:

* First, a new General Block Exemption Regulation on state aids will simplify procedures and reduce costs. It will increase the aid intensity for SMEs and make it easier for SMEs to benefit from aid for training, research and development, environmental protection and other types of aid.
* Secondly, a new statute for a European Private Company will allow a “Société privée européenne” (SPE) to be created and operate according to the same uniform principles in all Member States. It has been designed to address the current onerous obligations on SMEs operating across borders, who need to set up subsidiaries in different company forms in every Member State in which they want to do business. In practical terms, the SPE would mean that SMEs can set up their company in the same form, no matter if they do business in their own Member State or in another. Opting for the SPE will save entrepreneurs time and money on legal advice, management and administration
* Thirdly, a new proposal on VAT will offer Member States the option to apply reduced VAT rates for locally supplied services, including labour intensive services, which are mainly provided by small and medium enterprises.
* Lastly, an amendment to the directive on late payments is foreseen in 2009 to help to ensure that SMEs are paid within the 30 day time limit stipulated.

10 principles shall guide the conception and implementation of policies at EU and Member State level, such as granting a second chance for business failures, facilitating access to finance and enabling SMEs to turn environmental challenges into opportunities.

In addition to the standing commitment to cut administrative burden by 25% by 2012, the time needed to start a new company should be no more than one week, the maximum time to obtain business licenses and permits should not surpass one month and one-stop-shops should assist to facilitate start-ups and recruitment procedures.

Where practical, the Commission plans to use concrete dates in a year for the entry into force of regulations/decisions affecting business. Member States are invited to consider similar measures.

The SBA includes an ambitious set of measures to allow SMEs to fully benefit from the Single Market and expand into international markets by orienting more resources to small companies’ access to finance, Research & Development and innovation. They will also make it easier for them to participate in the standard-setting process, win public procurement contracts and turn environmental challenges into business opportunities.

Finally, the SBA seeks new ways to stimulate interest in entrepreneurship and cultivate a more entrepreneurial mindset, especially among young people. Young people, who want to start up a business, can now gain experience by spending time in an SME abroad via the just launched “Erasmus for young entrepreneurs” programme. This will help upgrade their skills and contribute to the networking among SMEs in Europe. Similar mobility programmes are also underway for apprentices.

The SBA is fully embedded in the Growth and Jobs strategy. Member States are invited to take advantage of the update of the Lisbon cycle 2008 to reflect the SBA in their National Reform Programmes.

Background

Although 99% of companies in the EU are SMEs (companies with a maximum of 250 employees and a maximal turnover of € 50 million), most legislation and administrative procedures don’t distinguish on the basis of company size. As a result, 23 million SMEs often have the same administrative requirements as Europe’s 41,000 large companies. During past years SMEs have created 80 % of the new jobs in the EU.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission
 
  More information:
DG enterprise

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EU funding: Boosting Small and Medium Enterprises’ investment in research

Mercredi 25 juin 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 New framework programme for research and technology aiming at better exploiting research capacities in Europe and transforming scientific results into new products, processes and services.
 EUREKA-EU research and development support programme for high-tech SMEs, financed by the Article 169 under FP 7 Capacities

European Commission welcomes the Council agreement on the “Eurostars” Programme

On Monday 23rd of June, the Council of Ministers agreed to provide EUR 100 million from the EU’s 7th Framework Programme (FP7) budget to Eurostars, a Research and Development (R&D) programme jointly set up by 31 countries to boost research capacities of Small and Medium-Sized companies (SMEs) in Europe. The EUR 100 million from FP7 will leverage at least EUR 300 million in public funding from the participating countries, resulting in a package of EUR 400 million for financing trans-national research partnerships driven research-performing SMEs in Europe.

EU Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik said: “Research-performing SMEs are the entrepreneurial stars of Europe. We have to join our efforts to support them in this task. The “Eurostars” programme is an excellent example of how Member States and the Commission can contribute to economic growth by reinforcing cooperation between their respective research programmes. Making it possible for SMEs to collaborate with the best European research teams, Eurostars will help them turn new ideas into successful businesses, and reinforce their competitive edge in knowledge and innovation – the cornerstones of our prosperity.”

Research-performing SMEs (i.e. companies capable to perform their own R&D) are crucial to the economic success of Europe in the global knowledge economy. With their flexible organisation, resolutely forward-looking strategies, and strong commitment to R&D, these SMEs are uniquely positioned to compete successfully in the global knowledge economy, seizing market opportunities and generating new jobs.

Eurostars provides a new, flexible and efficient tool specifically tailored to the needs of R&D- intensive SMEs. Based on Article 169 of the Treaty, the Commission has proposed to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament that the European Community participates in Eurostars with up to EUR 100 million from the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) budget. Following the approval of the European Parliament in April, this proposal was adopted by the Council today.

The integration of the national research and development programmes of the participating countries into a joint programme for research-performing SMEs further contributes to the realisation of the European Research Area (ERA). This initiative adds to, and fully complements, existing actions in favour of SMEs in FP7. It also reinforces the cooperation between EUREKA[3] who will be managing the Eurostars programme, and the Community’s FP7.

The EUREKA Secretariat issues calls, receives project proposals, organises evaluation by independent experts, manages the Community contribution to the Joint Programme, and monitors progress of projects. The first such call (closed in February 2008) generated over 200 applications, demonstrating the high level of interest of the SME community.

 
  Source:
Press Room - European Commission

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EU Funding: Europe to be in a pole position for the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Race

Vendredi 30 mai 2008

The future of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies in Europe is on its way. The Council adopted today the regulation setting up the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking

This public-private joint technology initiative (JTI) will implement the EU target-oriented research and development to support the broad market introduction of these technologies. Founding members are the European Community and a non-profit association of European industry interests composed of a major share of Europe’s fuel cells and hydrogen companies of all sizes from micro to large multinationals. The Commission is expected to fund 470 M€ from the Seventh Framework Programme for a period of six years which will be at least matched by industry contributions. The first calls for proposals are expected to be published after this summer. The official celebration of the launch will be at the JTI’s first Stakeholders’ General Assembly the 14 and 15 of October this year in Brussels.

The main goal of the JTI is to speed up the development of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies in Europe and enable their commercialisation between 2010 and 2020. The partnership will implement an integrated and efficient programme of basic and applied research and technology development activities, demonstration and support actions focused on the most promising applications. The JTI will ensure coordination of activities at European level in order to maximise synergies with Member States and regional programmes.

Scenario analysis, undertaken in the EU-funded project “HyWAYS” indicates that hydrogen, if introduced with suitable policy measures, could reduce the total oil consumption by the road transport sector by 40% between now and 2050. Furthermore, by 2050, CO2 savings from road transport of up to 50% compared to peak levels are possible. Comparing overall spending for hydrogen production, supply and vehicles with the savings to be gained from replacing conventional fuel and conventional vehicles over time, the break-even point could be most likely reached between 2025 and 2035. Nevertheless European Industry needs additional stimulation to invest in the technology of hydrogen and fuel cells.

The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen JTI is the culmination of a 6-year effort involving the main stakeholders in the sector. It started in October 2002 with the establishment of the High Level Group for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies. They developed a common and collective “vision” on the contribution that these technologies could make to the realisation of sustainable energy systems in the future. The industry-led European Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Platform launched in June 2003 followed this path and developed the main strategic documents for Europe and assisted the Commission in the preparation of the JTI.

The legal entity, the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, will be led by a Governing Board. Daily management and operations will be the responsibility of an Executive Director supported by the Programme Office with its seat in Brussels. A Scientific Committee composed of high level personalities will advise the Governing Board. The Member States will closely follow the activities via the States Representatives Group. The Stakeholders’ General Assembly will be held on an annual basis and be open to all public and private stakeholders to stimulate a dynamic debate and information exchange on ongoing and future activities.

 
  Source:
Press room - European Commission
 
 

Good headway being made on entrepreneurship key competence

Lundi 19 mai 2008

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Assistance to the Candidate countries to support their progressive compliance with EU rules and policies, including the acquis communautaire if necessary, in preparation for their accession

The ETF has just completed an interim assessment of the EU’s pre-accession countries’ performance on the human resource dimensions of the European Charter for Small Enterprise. Three countries in particular stand out for their efforts in promoting entrepreneurship as a key competence

Firstly, Montenegro has elaborated a national entrepreneurial learning strategy which is expected to go for Government approval in late spring 2008. The strategy covers all parts of the education system and is intended to provide a comprehensive framework for lifelong entrepreneurial learning development with a particular emphasis given to key competence development. While the strategy awaits adoption, however, the education authorities have already moved on introducing the key competence within some 38% of secondary schools with where teachers have been trained and new pedagogic-didactic materials introduced. Lola Radulović of the SME authority underlines the wider value of the entrepreneurship key competence, ‘employers need enterprising workers, people who are spot opportunities and who are not frightened of taking an initiative’, she says.

Serbia is also forging ahead with key competence development but specifically in the vocational training areas e.g. agriculture, mechanical engineering and health care with additional occupational areas to be included in 2008 (e.g. electrical engineering, tourism). These developments follow the adoption of the national vocational training strategy adopted in late 2006 and demonstrate a commitment by the Belgrade authorities to see through the reforms outlined in the strategy.

For its part, Kosovo has elaborated an entrepreneurial learning strategy which covers all parts of the education system, where the entrepreneurship key competence is a primary pillar to envisaged reforms. Kosovo has additionally defined a series of standards for entrepreneurial learning to ensure appropriateness of the teaching and learning processes.

Meanwhile, two neighbouring countries have taken important steps to address the key competence policy concerns. Croatia is revisiting its national curriculum strategy with a view to incorporating the key competence provisions within pre-school, primary and secondary education. And fYR of Macedonia has signalled intentions to move forward strategically on key competence developments with a specific request for support from the European Union through its IPA Programme. This will build upon harder entrepreneurship knowledge and skills promotion which is now mandatory for all secondary level schooling.

Reflecting on the key competence developments of the four countries, Anthony Gribben points to good policy motivation by the countries to accommodate the education guidelines within the SME Policy Index.

The ETF works with the European Commission (Directorate General for Enterprise & Industry), OECD and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is supporting the EU pre-accession region in meeting the policy requirements of the European Charter for Small Enterprise.

 
  Source:
Education and Training Agency (ETF)

Combating cancer on plenary agenda Wednesday

Mardi 8 avril 2008
 
 

 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 Grants awarded via the programme of Community action of public health
 Grants for promotion of security in the field of Public health

How to extend best practice across Europe for cancer screening and treatment will be discussed on Wednesday 9 April

Fatal cancers claim a million people in Europe a year and there are wide disparities in screening and treatment. The main dangers are lung, bowel and breast cancers. Meeting in Brussels this week for a 2-day plenary session, MEPs will debate the issues with probable new EU Health Commissioner Androula Vassiliou. A 50% increase in screening is one issue likely to be debated.

Disparities in cancer treatment and screening across Europe are most marked in the five year survival rate across Europe. In particular death rates in the 10 mainly central and eastern countries that joined the Union in 2004 are higher than in Western Europe.

The figures for the number of cancer sufferers show this is a Europe-wide affliction. An estimated one third of all Europeans will be affected by cancer and this number is likely to increase as the population ages. Around 8% of all cancers are caused by exposure to carcinogens at work and 25% of all cancer deaths in the EU can be attributed to smoking

The oral question to put to Ms Vassiliou comes in the wake of a January resolution of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee on “Combating cancer in the enlarged EU”. The current Slovene Presidency of the European Union has also made prevention of cancer the centrepiece of its term of office.

Treating preventable cancers

The draft parliamentary resolution calls for an increase in the proportion of the population taking part in cancer screening measures by at least 50% in each of the EU states by 2018. It also wants steps to reduce exposure to carcinogens at work. Another step advocated is an EU Cancer Task Force. You can watch all the debates live online from Brussels on Wednesday 9 April from 1500 CET.

 
  Source:
European Parliament