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Strengthening SMEs: Enterprise creation, information and cooperation networks, investment support, RTD. Council Resolution

A Council Resolution on strengthening the competitiveness of enterprises, in particular of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and craft enterprises, and developing employment (22 November 1993) emphasizes that existing Community initiatives and policy for SMEs should be...
A Council Resolution on strengthening the competitiveness of enterprises, in particular of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and craft enterprises, and developing employment (22 November 1993) emphasizes that existing Community initiatives and policy for SMEs should be reinforced and extended.

The Council invites the Commission to promote an environment which favours the creation and development of new enterprises and to encourage the exchange of experience in the Community in the areas of:

- Vocational training (particularly managerial);
- The needs of creators of innovative enterprises in general and innovative technological enterprises in particular, especially as regards technical assistance;
- The relations of SMEs with financial institutions;
- Promotion of spin-off techniques for enterprises from existing enterprises.

The Commission is invited to speed up the timely, targeted distribution of relevant information on business opportunities and cooperation possibilities on the subcontracting markets, in particular with the aid of initiatives such as:

- Promotion, within existing European networks accessible to SMEs, of linking and compatibility between databanks already involved in transnational cooperation;
- Encouragement of trial meetings organized by main contractors for the purpose of contacting subcontractors in the context of new-style inter-industry partnerships.

Also emphasized are:

- Improvement of SMEs access to quality and certification techniques;
- Encouragement of support for investment in SMEs by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF);
- The organization, in accordance with the SME programme, of more systematic consultation of bodies representing SMEs and craft enterprises at European level on all Community projects likely to have an impact on enterprises (starting at the planning stage) plus a new methodology for assessing the cost and benefits of the Community proposals on the basis of a regularly updated impact statement;
- To increase, in particular, as part of the strategic programme on the Internal Market, SME participation in public procurement.

Further, the Council invites the Commission to strengthen effective SME participation in the Fourth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. This should be encouraged by promoting:

- Greater consistency between the various Community measures on the one hand and Member State measures on the other;
- Broader dissemination and exploitation of research results by calling on existing specialized Community networks and national and regional bodies;
- The improvement, strengthening and extending to other programmes of specific measures to stimulate research and technological development by or for SMEs, particularly in the light of CRAFT measures and feasibility premiums;
- The simplification of procedures and conditions for participating in calls for tenders and improvements in the time taken to process files;
- Cooperation between SMEs and between large enterprises and SMEs.

In addition, an examination and analysis of the approach of non-Community countries towards the development of SMEs is proposed.

The Commission is requested to examine at the earliest possible opportunity concrete proposals for the achievement of an integrated programme for SMEs and craft enterprises by means of a Community Initiative Programme.

Member States are invited to take action to ensure that public and private financial institutions are in a position to call on the EIF for SME financial guarantees, to take care that a favourable financial climate exists for SMEs, and to remove any barriers to cooperation between enterprises on the subcontracting market.

They are further requested to encourage SMEs to participate in public works, supply and service contracts, to simplify the administrative and regulatory procedures applying to SMEs, promote high-level vocational training opportunities, and to ensure that the organizations representing SMEs are regularly asked in social and economic consultative fora to give opinions on legislative and regulatory measures.

Source: Official Journal of the European Communities

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