This document reflects the most important activities of SMEunited in the 4
th Quarter of 2020.
European SMEs call President von der Leyen for support to realise EU goals – 3/12/2020.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission addressed the SMEunited General Assembly. She highlighted the EU funds that would be invested in the recovery and transition. The SMEunited General Assembly issued a Declaration demanding a speedy approval of Next Generation EU and a focus on solvency support. Moreover, the
Declaration asked authorities to cooperate with SME organisations for the design and implementation of Recovery and Resilience Plans. Lastly, SME organisations called for Better Regulation, boost of digital transformation and support of SMEs towards a circular and carbon-neutral economy.
SME strategy discussed with Commissioner Breton – 5/10/2020
During an exchange with Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton, President Maggiar focused on three topics: the concerns of SMEs for their survival, their recovery and resilience
and the twin transition. Mr. Breton stressed that late payment had the full attention of his services. On the Digital Services Act, he mentioned that the Directive would be very precise to ensure fair competition. Mr. Maggiar highlighted the importance of fair access to data, as well as SMEs’ concerns about the content of the Chemicals Strategy.
Tripartite Social Summit reviews impact pandemic – 14/10/2020
On the occasion of the Tripartite Social Summit, President Maggiar pointed out the main concern of SMEs: Insolvency becoming a serious risk, even for viable enterprises. On digitalisation he emphasised the importance of ensuring the necessary infrastructure, access to data and a level playing field. On green transformation he said that legislation “should be realistic”. Moreover, he raised the issue of upskilling and reskilling. Lastly, he asked for a full involvement of social partners, and especially SME organisations, in the drafting and roll out of NRRPs.
SMEs and Green deal explained to EVP Timmermans and Commissioner Sinkevičius –
President A. Maggiar reiterated the willingness of SMEs to embrace the green transition during an exchange with Vice-President Frans Timmermans. Discussing on the implementation of the European Climate Law, Sustainable Product Policy and the SCIP database, Mr. Maggiar outlined the main needs of SMEs, such as the provision of
proper guidance, impact assessment, access to finance and reskilling/upskilling of entrepreneurs and employees. An enabling framework at EU and national level is necessary to allow traditional SMEs to embrace green transition. This will ensure sustainable growth, employment and more support for the Green Deal. This was the key message President Maggiar brought forward during a meeting with Commissioner Sinkevičius. Mrs Rabmer-Koller, Vice-President for Sustainable Development, stressed the importance of the ‘3 I’s’: Innovation, Investments, Information.
Vice-President Šefčovič invites Social Partners on Foresight and Better regulation –
During an exchange with Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič on the Strategic Foresight Report, the EC Work Programme and Better Regulation, Social Partners raised concerns on the working methods for EC’s consultations. Concretely, SMEunited SecGen
Willems referred to the “avalanche” of consultations, often quite technical and complex. A prerequisite for a meaningful input from entrepreneurs is a decent period to provide feedback.
MED: Recovery plans should support solvency, training and reforms for private investment –
During the Macro-Economic Dialogue with the German Presidency, upcoming Portuguese and Slovenian Presidencies, the President of the Eurogroup and the President of the ECB, Sec Gen Willems said that support had helped SMEs to overcome liquidity shortage, however, at
that point more and more SMEs were facing solvency problems. Therefore, solvency support measures had to be part of National Reform and Resilience Programmes, investing in skills development for the twin transition.
SME Assembly 2020: cooperation for a sustainable and resilient SME future – 17/11/2020
At the 2020’s SME Assembly, SMEunited participated in the session “building a sustainable and resilient future together”. Main demands were EU’s support for viable SMEs, tackling late payments and facilitating the digital and green transition. President Maggiar advocated for establishing solvency support instruments to ensure re-capitalisation of SMEs. Additionally, he called on governments to set up early warning mechanisms to provide advice to SMEs in
difficulties. In the Plenary, Policy Vice-President Matilda Mielind reacted to the introduction of Commissioner Breton on late payment and the need Member States to comply with the Late Payment Directive. Moreover, she highlighted the need for a well-functioning broadband infrastructure and equal access to data for SMEs.
Commissioner Kyriakides on EU Pharma Strategy and Beating Cancer Plan – 12/11/2020
“Mitigating measures and funding should support Crafts and SMEs to adapt workplaces and working methods following new scientific research”. That was one of SecGen Willems’ messages, recalling the role played by occupational safety and health during a Social
Partners hearing with Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. On the EU Pharma Strategy, Ms Willems stated that this could be a driver of EU’s economic recovery if the specific needs of SMEs in the sector were addressed. A first element is the attraction of right talents.
The promotion for STEM studies is important to ensure skilled staff for SMEs.
Osnabruck Declaration on VET and apprenticeship – 1/12/2020
Endorsing the Osnabrück Declaration together with Education Ministers and Commissioner Schmit, Sec Gen Willems stated that the Declaration is an important political milestone defining the education and training objectives for the next 5 years. This specific attention for
Vocational Education and Training (VET) shows policy makers value its essential contribution to skills development of entrepreneurs and their workers for SME growth, she added.
SME priorities for social European initiatives – 2/12/2020
Exchanging views on current and future initiatives in the field of social affairs with European Social Partners, German Federal Minister Heil and Commissioner Schmit ahead of the EPSCO Council, V. Willems mentioned SMEs’ four main priorities for the Action Plan on the EPSR: 1) ensuring employability 2) up- and reskilling of entrepreneurs and workers, 3) adequate social protection for the self-employed and 4) increased capacity for national social partners
to contribute to European and national social dialogue effectively.
EU Budget and Next Generation EU exchange with MEP Van Overtveldt – 24/11/2020
SMEunited exchanged views on MFF, Next Generation EU and Recovery and Resilience Facility with MEP Van Overtveldt, the Chairman of the Budget Committee of the European Parliament. President Maggiar said that SMEs expected a fast adoption of the future EU budget, because otherwise the support programmes could not start in time. He also criticised the cuts in some important Programmes made by the European 4 Council (Solvency Support, InvestEU, Horizon Europe, Erasmus+ and Digital Europe) in July 2020 and thanked the European Parliament for achieving some improvements in Horizon Europe, InvestEU and
SMEunited members benefit from dedicated webinars on Recovery & Resilience Plans –
SMEunited organised webinars for its members, discussing NRRPs, their process, SMEs’ involvement and topics. On the first session, Ms Fabregas Fernandez, EC Director of Recovery and Resilience Task Force presented European Commission’s priorities such as supporting green and digital transition, as well as strengthening social and economic resilience. Moreover, she explained what is next for the National Recovery Plans and their assessment criteria. In the second session, National and Sectoral members presented the state of play in EU member states and made proposals on what should be the focus of the National plans.
Meetings Board (15.10.2020 03.12.2020), ECOFIS (28.10.2020), Training Committee (19.11.2020), Sustainable Development (25.11.2020)
Position Papers and Publications