The 5.5 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the commerce sector are an essential factor in terms of economic growth and job creation.
Small and medium-sized enterprises form the backbone of the European economy. 5.5 million companies in the commerce sector represent one-third of all SMEs in the EU.
They play a fundamental role with regard to economic growth and the creation of jobs. In order for them to develop, SMEs need a favourable political environment.
The European Commission recognised the central role that SMEs play in the European economy through the Small Business Act in 2008, a comprehensive policy framework for the EU and its Member States.
Much been achieved since then in the areas of access to finance, simplification of regulation and improvement of the business environment. Nevertheless, further progress is necessary in order to boost the creation and growth of SMEs. After five years of SBA implementation, the European institutions are now looking ahead and are considering the future of the EU’s SME policy.
Smart regulation: Better law-making and a reduction in administrative burdens are vital to SMEs. In particular, they need greater flexibility to react more quickly to the changing demands of the labour market.
Access to finance: Retail, wholesale and international trade SMEs need easier access to finance at reasonable cost, particularly innovative firms.
Extending reach: SMEs need support in developing export markets, to maintain growth and jobs in Europe. Group buying structures should be promoted to enable SMEs to benefit from economies of scale.
Entrepreneurship and innovation: Successful retail locations combine small and large retailers; the most successful smaller businesses are a critical source of innovation and future growth. Cooperation between universities and SMEs needs to be enhanced to support innovation, and to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit.