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The SME Envoy
The Envoy for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) acts as the interface between the European Commission and the SME community. She listens to SMEs' concerns and represents their interests in the EU's law-making process. Not only does the Envoy give the Commission a human face in its dealings with European SMEs, she also stresses their importance for economic growth and job creation in Europe.
The competitiveness of the European Union (EU) is fundamentally dependent on the wellbeing of its small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The EU's 23 million SMEs make up 99 % of all EU companies and account for the majority of new jobs created. SMEs are thus an essential source of growth, increased employment and better jobs in the European economy, which are key aims of the Lisbon strategy.
Although they are affected by many EU policies, it is difficult for SMEs to make their opinions heard.
In order to give them an opportunity to express themselves, and so as to implement in practice the "Think Small First" principle set out in the European Charter for Small Enterprises adopted by the Santa Maria de Feira European Council in June 2000, the European Commission decided to appoint an SME Envoy.
The SME Envoy acts as the interface between European SMEs and the Commission. She plays a dual role, simultaneously acting within the Commission and interacting with the outside world.
Internally, the Envoy's role is to improve the Commission's awareness of the problems facing SMEs. She examines EU polices that could have an impact on SMEs and ensures that their interests and specific needs are taken into account during policy-making.
The Envoy's task is part of the impact assessment system intended to ensure that the Commission's proposals are subject to prior evaluation of their economic, environmental and social effects. The key contribution of the SME Envoy is that she argues SMEs' case at an early stage of the law-making process and thus anticipates the effects of new laws.
In this way, the Envoy's work increases coordination within the Commission on issues concerning SMEs.
Externally, the Envoy gives the Commission a human face in its dealings with SMEs. She is a visible contact person who is recognised by the SME community. Her role is to listen, by means of direct contact, both regular and informal, with SMEs and their representative organisations. Besides gathering information, the Envoy keeps SMEs informed on EU programmes and funding and can answer their questions directly. By establishing dialogue between the EU and European business, the Envoy contributes to improving governance in Europe.
The first SME Envoy, Mr Timo Summa, then a Director of the Enterprise DG, was nominated in 2001 at the initiative of Erkki Liikanen, the then Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society.
The current SME Envoy is Mr Calleja Crespo, Director-General of the Enterprise and Industry DG.
- You can contact the EU's SME Envoy at the following address:
Enterprise and Industry DG
Horizontal Aspects of SME Policy (Unit E4)
or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For more information, see the Enterprise and Industry DG's European portal for SMEs and, in particular, the website of the SME Envoy.