Financial Back-Up for Small Businesses Vital for Recovery; COMMISSIONER FOR INDUSTRY AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND VICE PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION, ANTONIO TAJANI, ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SME SECTOR TO ECONOMIC RECOVERY
SMALL and medium-sized enterprises run by dynamic entrepreneurs are the job generators of Europe.
If we want to stimulate growth in Europe, it is from our SMEs that we must start. The entrepreneurial potential in Europe is not fully exploited: 45% of all Europeans would like to become their own boss if they could, but only an average of 10% is actually self-employed today.
If we could raise this percentage, we could have millions of new innovative and creative enterprises which would rejuvenate Europe's economic basis, make it more robust, more job-generating and more resilient to stormy economic times.
In economic crisis small businesses are the hardest hit. Between 2002 and 2008, small businesses in the 27 member states of the European Union grew strongly and turned out to be the job engine for much of the European economy.
The number of SMEs increased by 2.4 million (or 13%) and 9.4 million new jobs were created in the SME-sector between 2002 and 2008. Due to the current economic crisis, the number of jobs provided by SMEs is expected to decline.
Over 2009 and 2010, the EU-27 SME are estimated to shed a total of 3.25 million jobs, more than a third of the jobs created between 2002 and 2008.
Against this backdrop, decisive policy support is vital. The European Commission's Small Business Act for Europe sets out an ambitious agenda in favour of entrepreneurship and SMEs and I want to stress again that the swift implementation of all actions proposed under the Small Business Act is of utmost importance.
One of the key elements of the Small Business Act is improving access to finance for SMEs. In a recent European Central Bank survey, 18% of small enterprises reported a rejection of their bank loan application, up from 12% in the first half of 2009, and 2% desisted from taking up the loan offer, considering the price too expensive. Small enterprises in the services and construction sectors were the least successful when applying for a bank loan.
To overcome these barriers to growth, I am working to allow a permanent dialogue on this topic between financial institutions and SMEs.
On May 6, I organised in Brussels the SME Finance Forum, which represented the first step of a new action plan for a better access to credit and finance for SMEs. The main objectives of this Action plan are the following: strengthen the collaboration between European banks and SMEs in a constructive manner in order to regain mutual trust; evaluate loan guarantee systems and how this instrument could be used more widely; strengthen the collaboration between the European Commission and the European Investment Bank with the objective of maximising the effectiveness of financing programmes for SMEs; recommend measures to create a real single market for venture capital by encouraging institutional investors to invest in venture capital and extending the benefits of a passport regime to venture capital; review listing requirements of SMEs for stock exchange listings and improve liquidity in those markets; and exchange experiences between credit market mediators and spread this kind of actions to other interested Members States. …