Workshop on the Impact of the Crisis on SMEs

The European Parliament has founded a committee (CRIS) with the purpose of studying the impact of the financial crisis on SMEs.  As a part of this ambition a workshop was organized in the European Parliament on February 1st. Experts from several member states were invited, including Pontus Braunerhjelm, professor, Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum, Gerhard Heumer, UEAPME, George Ioannidis, professor, Cambridge University, Maria Nowak, European Microfinance Network and Aide, António Saravia, President of the Confederation of Portuguese Industry and Reinhilde Veugelers, professor, KU Leuven. The workshop was moderated by Wolf Klintz, member of the European Parliament and chairman of CRIS.

In his presentation Pontus Braunerhjelm, Managing Director of Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum, emphasized the connection between the ongoing globalisation, the financial crisis and possibilities for SMEs.

– We can expect an even deeper global - regional economic interaction between old and new industrialised countries, at the same time as an intensified competition between the old industrialised countries. This will put further pressure on the need for change and flexibility when the economy and the globalisation with renewed strength pushes forward.

– Knowledge will become an even more important factor in striving for growth and prosperity. SMEs will become more important for innovation, employment and the dynamics of the economy. Therefore a policy focused on improving the climate for SMEs is the best remedy for handling the crisis.

Pontus Braunerhjelm underlined the importance of a comprehensive approach. Otherwise reforms will not  be successful.  There is no quick fix. The labour market, the education system, taxes and social security are all issues that effect new and existing SMEs. A thorough strategy, including these policy areas, is vital for creating a prosperous SME sector.