Promoting entrepreneurship across different sectors and territories and strengthening regional entrepreneurial ecosystems should remain the key objectives of the EU's future programme for supporting small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). At the same time, synergies between different funding instruments need to be improved to support emerging industries and to foster regional economic growth through smart specialisation, First Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) Markku Markkula said in Rovaniemi, Finland.
Arctic Smartness is the theme of the conference organised jointly by the Lapland Regional Council and the CoR's Commission for Economic Policy (ECON) on 9–10 November. Rovaniemi, which is located at the Arctic Circle, hosts the EU's northernmost university with a specific section devoted to Arctic studies and research. Lapland region's aim is to obtain a leading position globally in smart and sustainable exploitation and commercialisation of the Arctic natural resources and conditions.
"Lapland region is a good example of how active implementation of smart specialisation can be a solid foundation for innovation and entrepreneurship built on thriving industrial development and advanced cluster collaboration. In the post-2020 financing period regions will need to place even more emphasis on strong cross-border partnerships and build on improved synergies between national public and private funding and different EU funding instruments, which include structural and investment funds and European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), as well as Horizon 2020, COSME and Erasmus+ programmes and their successors", First Vice-President Markkula said.
To bring regional perspective to the ongoing debate on the future of COSME – EU's current programme for the competitiveness of SMEs with a budget of 2.3€ billion for 2014–2020 – members of the ECON commission adopted an opinion
drafted by Robert Sorin Negoiţă
(RO/PES), Mayor of Bucharest's District 3. It calls upon the European Commission to ensure a predictable and stable SME support framework beyond 2020 by creating a renewed and strengthened successor programme to COSME taking the needs of diverse types of SMEs in different EU territories into account.
Supporting internationalisation of SMEs through initiatives such as the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) and improving access to risk capital and alternative forms of finance are some of the key recommendations of the opinion, which also suggests that the future programme could provide financial incentives for solo entrepreneurs or micro-enterprises to encourage the hiring of a first employee.
"We need to find the way to reduce disparities between EU Member States. Our main concern in drafting the COSME opinion is to give more attributions and competences to local and regional authorities. Good practices implemented at regional level through EU support can further contribute to mitigate the risk of increasing territorial disparities and a more active involvement of local and regional authorities in supporting the business environment will lead to a better implementation of European programs for SMEs", rapporteur Negoiţă said. At his invitation Bucharest will host an ECON conference on this topic in June 2018.
The ECON members also discussed a set of proposals for the deepening of the Economy and Monetary Union. The opinion
prepared by Christophe Rouillon
(FR/PES), Mayor of Coulaines, is set for final adoption at the CoR plenary session on 30 November in the presence of Pierre Moscovici
, EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs.