Brussels, 13 March 2014
VP Tajani visits Italy's Campania region to jump-start the recovery of local SMEs
Like in many regions in the European Union, companies in Campania have suffered a lot from the economic crisis in recent years. Between 2008 and 2012 about 8 400 companies disappeared from the market in Campania each year. To help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Campania emerge from the downturn and participate in the next economic growth cycle, the Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship is travelling to Naples today. He will be accompanied by representatives of about 360 European companies, who will participate in more than 600 bilateral meetings with SMEs from Campania, to form new partnerships and discuss opportunities for collaboration in key sectors active in the region; such as aerospace, agro food, biotechnology and fashion industries.
The Vice President will take this opportunity to visit the Alenia aerospace cluster, the automotive cluster in Pomigliano and agro-food excellence cluster at Napoli Est, which play an important role in the economy of the region and could be key players in economic change. The programme will also include a visit to the Pompei site which offers an important example of private-public partnership which helps add value to and maintain the region's impressive cultural heritage.
New markets mean greater business opportunities
The adoption of internationalization strategies - rather than the size of the business - is a crucial factor for companies successfully addressing the crisis in Campania. Undertakings entering into new markets, while still recording significant reductions in revenue and investment, have shown less unfavourable performance than the others. However, the diffusion of innovative activity necessary to address international markets remains significantly lower in Campania than the Italian average.
This is why a central focus of this visit, hosted by the region of Campania, will be the business to business and cluster to cluster networking event which will take place on 14 March. The aim of the event is to promote business partnerships between companies and clusters in Campania and other EU countries, but also with companies and clusters from other non-European countries in sectors identified as key contributors to achieving growth in the region, including:
Strategy for growth
Another important part of this visit will be the Europe 2020 strategy for growth conference, which Vice President Tajani will open together with the President of the Campania region, Stefano Caldoro. Issues discussed at the conference will include EU financing for business, as well as SME internationalisation and access to markets. The Vice President will use this opportunity to introduce COSME, a new €2.3 billion program for SMEs which aims to address the main challenges they are currently facing, including improvement of the business environment and support for entrepreneurs. This program will also help EU enterprises, including the ones in Campania, deal with the current credit crunch by enabling them to gain better access to bank financing and venture capital (IP/13/1135 ).
Business closures and polarisation in Campania
The Campania region has suffered during the recent double-dip recession. The number of active companies has decreased; mainly as a result of voluntary liquidations, but with an increasing incidence of bankruptcy proceedings. The start-up rate of new companies also fell. The creation of a favourable business environment is therefore a key priority to invert the trend and go back to pre-crisis situation.
Regional industry performance is characterized by a remarkable polarization. However there is no shortage of areas that have exceeded pre-crisis levels of activity, mainly due to a strong focus on manufacturing. Companies operate both in high-technology sectors (aerospace, pharmaceuticals) and in traditional sectors (food, clothing, rubber and plastic). Unfortunately in other industry sectors the signs of recovery appear rather weak or absent altogether.
Employment issues in Campania
Between 2007 and 2011 employment in the Campania region showed the most intense and prolonged decline among Italian regions. In 2012 the number of employees returned to growth (1.3%), however it is a mild pace insufficient to reduce the large imbalance between demand and supply of labour. The unemployment rate in 2012 is located at the highest level among the Italian regions (19.3%), especially for women (22.3%) and youth (48.2%). In 2012, the employment rate was the lowest in Italy, as in Campania only 40% of the working age population was employed.
Improving the business environment to drive economic change
Against this background, the Vice President will use this visit to point out funding opportunities which will come out of the new Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. For example, a new "SME Instrument" (with the help of the Enterprise Europe Network) will support innovative SMEs, during an entire innovation cycle: from the conception of the innovative idea, to the final creation of the new product or service. Companies will then have the responsibility to commercialize their innovations using existing mechanisms of access to finance.
Missions for Growth
This mission is part of the series of "Missions for Growth" to help European enterprises, in particular small and medium sized enterprises, to better profit from fast growing international markets. The Mission’s overall objective is the enhancement of the growth and competitiveness of European industry by better exploiting growth potential in non-EU countries via the reinforcement of economic co-operation and reforms, helping EU companies to access the Chinese market, as well as deepening of bilateral policy co-operation in various policy fields.