The Committee of the Regions (CoR) welcomes the European Commission's proposals on the new Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and small and medium sized enterprises (COSME). Nevertheless, it insists on the need to continue reducing obstacles for SMEs to access markets.
The CoR finds the European Commission's commitment to recognize competitiveness as a fundamental and leading factor in ensuring sustained economic growth and more jobs in the European Union as extremely positive. The cities and regions of Europe consider that this Programme will significantly increase confidence in Europe's enterprises sector in both European and global markets. As a successor to the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme for 2007-2013, COSME will bridge entrepreneurship with innovation and research. The programme builds on the experiences from the past and continues to promote support for entrepreneurship.
However, the Committee of the Regions considers that the European Commission's proposals should place more emphasis on increasing SMEs available financial resources and facilitating their access to both EU market and external markets. SMEs are still facing two main obstacles: administrative constraints on payments terms and late payments hold them back. Moreover, EU policy on business competitiveness should lean on a partnership between representative intermediary organisations and public powers to back SMEs implementation and growth.
According to the local and regional representatives, it is assumed that small and medium-sized enterprises play a crucial role in reaching the Europe 2020 objectives. "SMES are a major source of economic growth and employment: 85% of new jobs in the EU between 2002 and 2010 were created by the small and medium sized enterprises", added Witold Krochmal (EA/PL), the CoR rapporteur on this programme and Member of the City and Municipal Council of Wołów.
The CoR will also call for more integration of enterprise trends and development into vocational training, as life-long learning for our entrepreneurs is essential for the competitiveness level. It is even deeply convinced that promoting enterprise should begin in school.
The opinion was already approved by the commission for Economic and Social Policy (ECOS) in April and has been adopted uninamously this afternoon during the CoR's plenary session.