Brussels, 11th October 2006
Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen responsible for enterprise and industry policy, said: “We have paid particular attention to SMEs when designing the new EU programmes for supporting entrepreneurship, innovation and research in line with the ‘Think Small First’ principle. As a result SMEs access to EU funding will improve.”
Commissioner Danuta Hübner, responsible for regional policy, said: "In an open economy, factors of competitiveness are no longer bound to costs or natural or geographical advantages, but to the capacity to create new goods and services in response to – quickly changing – needs of our citizens: SME's are the drive to achieve that quick change,"
Commissioner Janez Potočnik, responsible for research and development policy, said: “For FP7 to be truly successful SMEs will have to play an increasing role and in so doing will enhance European research, generate greater economies of scale and further develop their own long-term potential. This will be achieved through increased funding, more inclusive programmes and making it easier for SMEs to participate in European Research."
Increasing participation of SMEs in research and development
In 2007-2013 the EU will be allocating some 15% of its considerably increased
7th Research Framework Programme budget to projects involving SMEs. The rules
for participation will be simplified in several respects: more consistent
interpretation of legal and financial rules, user-friendly solutions for
guarantees or flexible and simpler evaluation and selection processes. The
Commission is also introducing a consultancy voucher which will allow SMEs to
test the feasibility of their innovative ideas before applying for EU
More information: SME TechWeb:
Helping enterprises to innovate
As of January 2007, the new “Competitiveness and Innovation Programme“ (CIP) will promote entrepreneurship and innovation, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, environmental technologies and a better use of information and communication technology. It will increase SMEs innovative capacity through an easier access to capital through loans, equity, venture capital and guarantees as well as technical assistance and grants. CIP will have a budget of around €3.6 billion for 2007-2013 (see IP/06/716).
Enhancing SME access to finance in the European Regions
From 1 January 2007 onwards the EU is aiming at investing 60-75% of its cohesion policy funding in programmes creating more growth and employment. Involving SMEs fully in regional policy is a priority for the new period. To ensure that this is the case a Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises, (JEREMIE), has been developed to improve access to finance for micro to medium-sized enterprises. Moreover, under the new regional competitiveness objective, SMEs can now be assisted, irrespective of their location. This will facilitate the development of clusters and co-operation between businesses and universities in areas which so far have not directly benefited from the support of European regional policy. The Commission is also currently reviewing State Aid rules to allow greater flexibility and to provide better targeted aid in favour of SMEs, such as in relation to innovation. Finally, the recently adopted guidelines for regional aid for 2007-2013 introduce a new form of aid in order to provide incentives to support business start-ups and the early stage development of small enterprises in assisted areas.
More information about the new Cohesion policy 2007-2013 at http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/index_fr.htm