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Brussels, 6 May 2009

European SME week to boost entrepreneurship in difficult times

Promoting entrepreneurship and raising awareness about business support are the main messages of the first European SME Week launched in Brussels today. More than 1000 events will take place in 35 countries from 6 to 14 May. Today more than ever the contribution of European entrepreneurs for preserving jobs and creating new ones needs to be recognised and supported. The week will also allow entrepreneurs to discover the information, advice, support and ideas available at European, national, regional and local levels to help them develop their activities.

European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for Enterprise and Industry, opened the SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) week today: “This Commission together with the Member States has worked hard to improve the conditions for small companies. If there is a way out of the economic downturn, it is the SMEs’ creativity, flexibility and capacity to find solutions. Together we have already achieved improvements. But we must go further. We need more SMEs as they are the true drivers of growth and job creation”.

The SME Week is one of the measures implementing the Small Business Act (SBA), the first really comprehensive SME policy framework for the EU and its Member States. Policies to promote SMEs have been considerably advanced by the European Commission since it took office in 2004:

  • To anchor "Think Small First" principle in the EU
  • Cutting administrative burden: SMEs will benefit from simplified measures and administrative costs savings with the Commission’s objective to reduce administrative burdens on businesses by 25% in 2012 and to engage also Member States (see IP/09/131).
  • Revised state aids rules make it easier for SMEs to benefit from public funding for training, research and development, environmental protection and other types of aid.
  • A new statute for a European Private Company will allow SMEs to start up and operate according to the same company law provisions throughout Europe.
  • To encourage new entrepreneurs and inspire those planning to set up a new business, the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs European exchange programme was launched at the beginning of 2009. The programme helps them to acquire relevant skills for managing an SME by spending time working in another EU country with an experienced entrepreneur.
  • New legislation has been proposed to address the problem of late payment by public administrations and businesses (see IP/09/552)
  • Member States should have the option to apply reduced Value Added Tax rates for locally supplied services, including labour intensive services, such as hairdressing, catering, and repair services.

During the SME week, events are taking place to inform, assist and connect existing and potential entrepreneurs and also help them develop new ideas and benefit from personalised information and support.

For a full overview of all events during SME week:

1st European SME week

For example, in Brussels, in the interactive exhibitionSME experience – How it feels to be an entrepreneur” from 6 to 9 May, the visitor will get first hand experience of what it is like to be an entrepreneur by seeing, smelling, touching and listening to installations in 10 rooms.

The winners of the European Entrepreneurship Video Awards will be announced at the opening event in Brussels on 6 May that focuses on the influence of TV on entrepreneurial attitudes. In this video competition, the Commission asked for short but creative, interesting and enlightening videos about entrepreneurship in three categories: “The entrepreneurial spirit", "Innovative entrepreneurship" and "Responsible Entrepreneurship".

SME Week will be brought to a close on 13 and 14 May in Prague, by a conference "The small business act for Europe: business without barriers", organised by the Czech Presidency of the EU and the European Commission. The event will incorporate a ceremony to announce the winners of the European Enterprise Awards, which will reward innovative practices in regions and by municipalities to promote entrepreneurship and SMEs.

More information:

Small Business Act

European Enterprise Awards

Enterprise Europe Network

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