At its meeting of 6-7 November 1995, the Council of Ministers responsible for industry discussed issues related to the European Union's strategy in favour of SMEs and the creation of a European capital market. In a presentation made to the Council, Christos Papoutsis, Commissioner responsible for energy and enterprise policy, informed the Council that the European Commission, following the request of the Cannes European Council, is presently preparing a report on a new EU strategy in favour of SMEs. This is due to be presented by President Santer to the Madrid European Council on 15 December 1995. In his presentation, Mr. Papoutsis insisted particularly on the importance of: - Improving the access of SMEs to loan capital at a "reasonable cost"; - Improving SME access to RTD programmes; - Improving and strengthening the training of workers and employees; - Promoting the internationalization of SMEs; - Improving access to information and to the Information Society; - Improving the business environment. The Commissioner further emphasized the need to create a European stock market aimed at promoting shareholdings in rapidly expanding SMEs, thus improving their access to long-term equity capital. Such a development is expected to have a significant impact on the economy and on employment generation in the European Union. The Commission believes that existing European securities law, once fully in force, should allow the creation of such a market, but there are legal, regulatory and fiscal difficulties which must be addressed and which fall within the competence of the Member States. Mr. Papoutsis, therefore underlined the need to deepen the current cooperation between the Commission and the Member States in order to devise how best the difficulties identified can be reduced, or better still, removed. Following a request of the Council (Decision of 14 June 1993), the Commission has already tested the feasibility of creating a European capital market through support to a private sector study, the positive results of which led to the stimulation of two initiatives: the EASDAQ (European Association of Securities Dealers Automatic Quotation) and the Nouveau Marche. It is hoped that both will start operations during the first half of 1996. The Council, in its conclusions concerning the European capital market, accepted the Commission's position and its proposal for close cooperation with the Member States. It also invited the Commission to report to the next Industry Council (March 1996) on ways of overcoming the various obstacles currently existing in the Member States, including obstacles inhibiting the channelling of funds of institutional and private investors, in order to support the creation of European secondary capital markets. Ministers further stressed the interest to the financial community of the establishment of efficient, smooth-running stock markets open to SMEs. The Council also unanimously adopted two Resolutions concerning: - Industrial competitiveness and services offered to enterprises; - Technological innovation and SMEs. The first Resolution invites Member States and the Commission to increase cooperation in the sector of services offered to enterprises, and eliminate existing obstacles to the creation of favourable conditions for the development of a competitive market in the sector of services. The Commission has been asked to examine the existing situation as far as the contribution of the offered services to the competitiveness of the European enterprises is concerned, to propose a Communication on the future of this sector and to examine the feasibility of developing a specific policy on this matter. The second Resolution invites the Commission to: - Consider the specific problems faced by technology-based enterprises; - Provide statistical data on the participation of SMEs in EU RTD programmes; - Evaluate the progress achieved thanks to Community measures destined to promote SME access to technological innovation; - Study ways of coordinating relevant Community policies; - Define, in the framework of the existing programmes, further actions in favour of SMEs.