How to best support the competitiveness of SMEs?

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Generating ideas to strengthen regional and local business environments was the aim of the annual meeting of the European Entrepreneurial Regions on 29 June in Brussels. Members of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), representatives of local and regional authorities as well as EU institutions, stakeholders and external experts met to discuss best practices, challenges and bottlenecks of the running COSME programme and the implications for its future.

Once a year the former winners of the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) award meet together with other stakeholders to examine selected best practices in regional and local entrepreneurship support policy. This year's meeting, dealing with the future of the COSME programme, took place only 2 weeks before the award ceremony of the EER 2018 edition which will be held during the CoR plenary session on 12 July.

The COSME programme is the European Commission's main instrument supporting the competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). It runs from 2014 to 2020 with a planned budget of €2.3 billion supporting better access to finance and markets for SMEs, creating a competitiveness-friendly environment and encouraging the entrepreneurial culture. Currently the European Commission is preparing a first evaluation, giving cities and regions the opportunity to provide key input to improve the next programming period.

"As the main tool to enhance the competitiveness of SMEs in Europe the COSME programme plays a central role for SME policies of cities and regions. If we manage to ensure that regional and local concerns are taken into account when shaping the future COSME or its successor programme, it would be a decisive step towards strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystems in our cities and regions", said Christian Buchmann (AT/EPP), Chairman of the CoR ECON Commission.

SMEs are the heartbeat of Europe's economy, representing 99% of all businesses. In the past five years, they have created around 85% of new jobs and provided two-thirds of the total private sector employment in the EU. Especially local and regional economies profit from strong SMEs that are able to establish themselves in the European Single Market. In order to feed a regional perspective into the discussion at an early stage the CoR is currently preparing an opinion on the future of COSME.

The meeting of the EER regions also offered the occasion for the presentation of the CoR study How to improve regional and local governance of SME and entrepreneurship policy, which examines the governance models of 13 EER regions in the area of SME support policy and compares them to other successful examples in the EU and beyond, such as Copenhagen, Lyon and Tel Aviv. It thus identifies success factors and best practices that can serve as inspiration to regional and local authorities aiming to strengthen their own business ecosystems.

"Our discussions today have highlighted the clear added value that the actors of the Triple Helix as well as local and regional practitioners can contribute thanks to their first-hand knowledge of the challenges and opportunities on the ground. While preparing our opinion on the future of the COSME programme, we should therefore examine which role these actors can play in the implementation of a future European programme supporting the competitiveness of SMEs", said Robert Negoiţă (RO/PES), Mayor of District 3 of Bucharest Municipality and rapporteur-designate of the CoR opinion on "The Future of COSME beyond 2020" during the conclusions of the meeting.

The contributions, ideas and suggestions collected at the annual meeting will serve as an important input for the CoR opinion. Mr Negoiţă will present the first draft at the CoR commission meeting for economic policy (ECON) on 9 November and CoR members will adopt the final recommendations at their plenary session on 31 January 2018.

Background:

The European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) Award is an initiative of the European Committee of the Regions that rewards EU regions and cities with prominent future-oriented entrepreneurial strategies, with the aim of supporting the implementation of SME-focused policies at local level. The territories with the most visible, forward-looking and promising political strategy are granted the EER label for a specific year. Former and current award winners meet every year with CoR members, EU institutions and external experts to explore a specific theme of entrepreneurship and SME policy identified in accordance with the priorities of the current EER regions. The winners of EER 2018 edition will be awarded on 12 July 2017 during the CoR plenary session.

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Last modified on Monday, 03 July 2017 19:48