Eurocommissarissen schieten kleine ondernemingen te hulp (en)

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op donderdag 26 maart 2009.

In the current financial downturn European small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) need to be able to do business abroad and benefit from the opportunities that trade offers to them. There are more than 23 million SMEs, representing 99% of EU companies, but only 3% of them export outside the EU. How can this be changed and what can the Commission do to support SMEs wanting to do business abroad? How can existing tools be improved and which new initiatives should be launched? More than 150 representatives of SME organisations, the European Parliament, the Member States, and other SME stakeholders will debate this issue today at a High Level Stakeholder Conference organised by Vice-President Günter Verheugen and Commissioner Catherine Ashton.

European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for Enterprise and Industry and Commissioner Catherine Ashton, responsible for trade policy, stated: "Trade policy is there to help businesses of all sizes, including the small and medium sized firms which are the lifeblood of our economy. We need to ensure that SMEs can benefit from the new trade opportunities. We are determined to help open new markets and to reduce the barriers that many SMEs are confronted with when trying to do business outside the internal market."

Participants are expected to underline that SME needs should be given greater priority when we negotiate international agreements including the EU's bilateral and multilateral trade deals and when we work with other countries to tackle barriers to doing business abroad.. Tackling barriers to trade and investment and increasing practical support to SMEs are important to encourage more small companies to go abroad. Improved market access, promotion of European standards, and better protection of intellectual property rights are of key importance in this context.

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