Brussels, 30 June 2004
The European Commission together with the Irish Presidency is holding a two-day Conference on the European Charter for Small Enterprises in Dublin which ends today. Some 34 countries which subscribe to the Charter will gather together to exchange good practice in improving the environment for small businesses. The conference attracted some 250 participants, representing national, regional and local governments, business organisations and business support providers from EU Member States, candidate countries and the countries of the Western Balkans. The conference focused on the three Charter areas selected as priorities last year: (1) access to finance, in particular venture capital and micro loans, (2) innovation and technology transfer, and (3) consultation of small businesses.
Commissioner Ján Figeľ said: “The good practices identified in the annual Charter implementation reports provide a huge fund of knowledge. They must be used to improve the environment for small businesses all over Europe. By identifying and spreading this knowledge, the Charter provides a massive boost to this process.”
Small businesses are represented at the conference by Hans-Werner Müller, Secretary General of UEAPME as well as by representatives of UNICE, Eurochambres and the Irish Small Firms Association.
The European Charter for Small Enterprises has become a key instrument for promoting the interests of small businesses and a core document of European policy, both at EU and at national level, committing public authorities to “think small first”.
Thanks to the Charter, endorsed by heads of state and government in June 2000, an increasing number of countries report that they have drawn inspiration from measures developed in other countries and from Commission recommendations. Success is no longer kept within national boundaries.
Among the cases presented in Dublin are the Slovenian Enterprise Fund which helps young and new entrepreneurs to get loans and guarantees, the Shannon Region Knowledge Network which connects key technology locations in Ireland, and the Swedish Committees of Inquiry which assess the impact of policy proposals on small businesses.
The conference will also introduce the three new priority areas selected for this year’s exercise: (1) Education for entrepreneurship, especially secondary education; (2) better regulation, especially bankruptcy law and impact assessment, and (3) skills shortages, especially measures to overcome the lack of skilled technicians and engineers.