Brussels, 15 February 2005. IP/05/178. 

EU flagSubstantial progress in promoting small enterprises through learning from each other’s good practices has been achieved by Member States, and in particular the new Member States. The 5th Implementation Report of the European Charter for Small Enterprises lists progress in the following fields: education for entrepreneurship, better regulation, bankruptcy law and skills shortages, especially measures to overcome the lack of skilled technicians and engineers. Since 2000, the Charter, which provides a framework to help signatories take action to support small enterprises, has expanded from the EU-15 to 35 countries across Europe. The Charter commitments are also spreading beyond Europe with the recent signing of the Euro-Mediterranean Charter for Enterprise, involving another nine countries.

Welcoming the report, Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen said: “Boosting small firms in the EU is a cornerstone of the Commission’s recent “growth and jobs” proposal. Today’s report shows that more and more Member States draw inspiration from measures developed in other countries. Learning from each other’s strengths improves the environment for business and helps small enterprises reach their potential for competitiveness.”

For example, Luxembourg has taken inspiration from Belgium and the Netherlands in appointing a “Commissioner for administrative simplification” within its Ministry in charge of SMEs. Building on the experiences in Ireland and the Netherlands, the Czech Republic is developing a system to monitor skills gaps and to anticipate long-term demand. In close cooperation with Denmark, Estonia is launching a one-stop-shop for companies on how to benefit from the use of design in business activities. Moreover, the joint Member State–Commission project on “Education for entrepreneurship” has served as an inspiration to Estonia, Lithuania, Sweden and Norway and the project on “Restructuring, bankruptcy and a fresh start” has contributed to policy developments in Cyprus, Latvia, Hungary and Norway.

Fostering entrepreneurial mindsets at school

France, the Netherlands, Finland and Norway have established formal links between different sectors of the public administration, with the aim of setting up a global entrepreneurship education strategy. Yet, a coherent framework is still missing in many other countries. As regards comprehensive education, countries that already include entrepreneurship explicitly in the curriculum – the Czech Republic, Spain, Ireland, Poland, Finland and Norway – are so far in a minority.

SME dimension integrated in most other policy activities

The SME dimension is increasingly integrated in most activities of the European Union. There are numerous programmes or initiatives that are designed for or mainly benefit small and also medium-sized enterprises. As far as legislation and its impact on SMEs are concerned, progress in the field of impact assessment procedures has brought encouraging results. This has led to better-informed policy making and increased consultation, both within the Commission and with external stakeholders, including SMEs.

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