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Brussels, 9 July 2008

Hübner calls on regions to boost small businesses with Cohesion Policy investment

Danuta Hübner, Commissioner for Regional Policy, today called on EU regions to boost prospects for their small businesses with Cohesion Policy investment. At a presentation on opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Brussels, she explained how Cohesion Policy was making available over €27 billion to create and develop such businesses over the 2007-2013 programming cycle.

'Small and medium enterprises are crucial to prospects for regions: 99% of businesses in the EU are SMEs, providing about two-thirds of all private sector jobs. Cohesion Policy can help them to grow and prosper and it offers solutions adapted to local needs. Indeed, regions' ability to innovate and create jobs will depend on the health and dynamism of SMEs.”

Concerning the Small Business Act, adopted in June, with its 'Think Small First' drive to cut red tape, the Commissioner said: 'This is a positive step towards unlocking the potential of SMEs to become world class actors in the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy for jobs and growth and Cohesion Policy effectively complements this initiative by supporting actions on the ground, in the regions.'

Commissioner Hübner emphasised that Cohesion Policy supports a broad range of activities in both national and regional programmes for SMEs:

  • Business infrastructure and support services for SMEs
  • Human resources, education and vocational training
  • Better access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies
  • Better access to capital via the JEREMIE initiative, 'Joint Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises', see MEMO/06/219); micro-credit initiative (IP/07/1713).
  • Cooperation, networking among SMEs and between business, research institutions and public authorities, eg by promoting clusters and cross-border cooperation
  • Environmental and innovative technologies and management systems
  • Promoting entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial education.

Notes for editors

Local access to investment: European Cohesion Policy programmes are managed in a decentralised way by Member States and their regions. By promoting the partnership principle at regional and local levels, Cohesion Policy gives SMEs and their representatives the opportunity to get involved in programming and implementation, notably through taking part in programme monitoring committees.

EU investment in action: Below are examples of the difference EU investment can make on the ground:

Finland: With the help of EU investment, the Finnish government launched Finnvera, a specialised financial company providing risk-financing services and soft loan schemes to businesses. These loans, with below-market rates of interest are targeted at micro-enterprises with fewer than five employees.

• Austria: The Innovation assistant project in Niederösterreich was cited at the RegioStars 2008 award ceremony. The project encourages SMEs to employ recent graduates as "innovation assistants" to improve their technological and innovation competence.

• Poland: A small enterprise in Katowice, previously specialised in devices to improve safety in the mining industry, managed to diversify its production. EMAG-Serwis deployed the latest technologies to develop new safety products with new markets.

• Inter-regional partnership: The “E-Teams” project was carried out within the INTERREG programme. One of its aims was to increase knowledge among the research community on how to support entrepreneurship and assist SMEs in their development. The project developed an extensive Benchmarks and Indicators System, allowing nine regions to compare approaches to SME policies and instruments. The project involved regions in Poland, Finland, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

More information on Regional Policy is available at:

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