Eurocommissaris Regionaal beleid benadrukt belang cohesiefonds voor economische vooruitgang (en)

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op donderdag 7 mei 2009.

Danuta Hübner , Commissioner for Regional Policy, is in Warsaw today for the first European SME Week, a campaign to inform entrepreneurs about support available at European, national and local level to develop their businesses and overcome the economic crisis. The Commissioner called on regions and cities to make the most of the €55 billion investment provided by the European Cohesion Policy in 2007-2013 to back businesses in Europe. Half of this investment is directly available for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), which make up 99% of all European businesses.

“Small and medium enterprises are the backbone of Europe’s economy and they can count on the support of the European Cohesion Policy to beat the crisis. The Commission has launched a comprehensive package of measures, ranging from additional advance payments from the Structural Funds to fast-track procedures to reduce red-tape (IP/09/703), and this will accelerate support to SMEs and boost regional economies. The Cohesion Policy is also helping small businesses to build long-term strategies and partnerships within their regions," said Commissioner Hübner.

Support for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

Of the €55 billion in Cohesion Policy grants available for business support, half is dedicated to creating and developing small businesses. The additional resources focus on general business support for all enterprises and measures which help companies to develop their human resources (see details in annex).

Commissioner Hübner also underlined that Cohesion Policy supports a broad range of activities through its regional and national investment programmes:

  • Business infrastructure and support services for SMEs;
  • Better access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies by business (reducing costs, improving productivity);
  • Promoting adaptability of workers and firms – such as support services and training for restructuring of sectors;
  • Cooperation, networking among SMEs and between business, research institutions and public authorities (e.g. by promoting clusters and cross-border cooperation);
  • Environmental and innovative technologies (such as eco-friendly products, energy efficient systems) and management systems;
  • Promoting entrepreneurship, business start-up and entrepreneurial education;
  • Human resources, education and vocational training.

SMEs and the economic crisis

Regarding specific support to vulnerable enterprises, the Commission has taken several measures as part of the European Economic Recovery Plan announced in November 2008:

  • The Commission has just paid €6.25 billion in additional advance payments from the Structural Funds to improve liquidity and all forms of investment support in Member States and regions. This comes of the top of €5 billion already released earlier this year and brings the total of advances paid since 2007 to nearly €30 billion.
  • The Commission has scrapped the 35% ceiling on aid that could be paid as an advance to companies under state aid schemes. They can now receive up to 100%.
  • Access to finance is one of the biggest obstacles for new or small firms in a risk-averse financial environment. The JEREMIE (“Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises”) initiative seeks to multiply investment resources by combining grants and loans to support the development of SMEs. JASMINE (“Joint Action to Support Micro-Finance Institutions in Europe”) assists non-bank micro-credit providers which can make investments in small enterprises.
  • The European Economic Recovery Plan also contains concrete measures supported by the European Social Fund (ESF) to reduce administrative burdens on business and to help more people to become entrepreneurs. This includes the possibility of ensuring starting up a business anywhere in the EU within three days at zero cost and via a single access point.

Notes for editors

Commissioner Hübner will inaugurate a new Technology Park in Lower-Silesia tomorrow which illustrates the type of support Cohesion Policy can bring to SMEs (IP/09/715). Some other examples of EU-backed schemes to help SMEs include:

  • “EMAG-SERWIS”, a small enterprise in Katowice, Poland, specialised in devices to improve safety in the mining industry, diversified its production and developed new products.
  • in Guadeloupe, Cohesion Policy has invested in a regional platform to promote electronic trade among SMEs;
  • the ADVANCE project in London aims to provide SMEs with a thorough guidance and support service on environmental technology;
  • “Innovation Assistant” in Niederosterreich, Austria, encourages SMEs to employ recent graduates to strengthen their technological and innovation expertise.

More information

EU support to business:

Cohesion policy recovery package:


Cohesion Policy support to Business for 2007-13

in Euros


Direct Support to SMEs


Technology transfer and improvement of cooperation networks ...


Assistance to R&TD, particularly in SMEs (including access to R&TD services in research centres)


Assistance to SMEs for the promotion of environmentally-friendly products and production processes (...)


Other measures to stimulate research and innovation and entrepreneurship in SMEs


Services and applications for SMEs (e-commerce, education and training, networking, etc.)


Other measures for improving access to and efficient use of ICT by SMEs


Support for self-employment and business start-up


Other business support (including SMEs)


Advanced support services for firms and groups of firms


Investment in firms directly linked to research and innovation (...)


Other investment in firms



Increasing the adaptability of workers and firms, enterprises and entrepreneurs


Development of life-long learning systems and strategies in firms; training and services for employees ...


Design and dissemination of innovative and more productive ways of organising work


Development of special services for employment, training and support in connection with restructuring of sectors ...



Active Labour Market measures

Implementing active and preventive measures on the labour market