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Annual report of European Observatory for SMEs

The second annual report of the European Observatory for SMEs has been published with support from DG XXIII (Enterprise Policy, Distributive Trades, Tourism and Cooperatives) of the European Commission.

The aim of the report is to provide a structured overview of European SM...
The second annual report of the European Observatory for SMEs has been published with support from DG XXIII (Enterprise Policy, Distributive Trades, Tourism and Cooperatives) of the European Commission.

The aim of the report is to provide a structured overview of European SMEs and the craft trades. The first annual report was published in May 1993 and concentrated on the structure of SMEs in general and their fields of operation. The second annual report also reviews the developments of SMEs, especially those reflecting the completion of the internal market. It also contains an extensive in-depth study of the craft sector.

The report has been produced by the European Network for SME Research (ENSR). ENSR is a network of leading organizations which specializes in SME research and covers all Member States of the European Union.

The report aims to provide both institutions and players with a preliminary analysis of the internal market's impact on SMEs. It covers a number of important issues and covers the following topics:
- SMEs and the European Union;
- Impact of the internal market on SMEs;
- Employment creation and human capital;
- Capital and finance;
- Regional aspects;
- Policy for SMEs;
- Innovation and diffusion of technology;
- The craft trades;
- Monitoring SMEs in the internal market.

In particular, the Observatory's second report underlines a number of issues and trends:

- The existence of different problems, attitudes and behaviour within the SME sector, eventually calling for adoption of differentiated policy approaches aiming at micro enterprises on the one hand, and small and medium-sized enterprises on the other;
- A differentiated contribution of SMEs to employment as only micro firms, although severely hit by the recession, have been able to secure some net job creation in 1990-1993, these years being characterized by an important reduction in the number of both medium-sized and large enterprises as well as in their employment levels;
- The importance to provide appropriate information and counselling, as well as adequate training facilities to smaller and newly created enterprises;
- The key role played by SMEs in both product and process innovation and their effectiveness in bringing those innovations to the market;
- The importance of the craft trades, which appear particularly capable of absorbing the low skilled unemployed and can act as a breeding place for qualified personnel in non-craft sectors;
- The relevance of Community efforts to provide assistance to enterprises and to promote economic development through transborder and transnational cooperation, namely by means of the INTERREG initiative and other interventions of the Structural Funds;
- A tendency towards convergence across the Member States in many elements of the business environment, even if differences in legislation and technical standards as well as difficulties in gaining access to information still act as major residual barriers to international activities by SMEs;
- The need to improve SME awareness on the functioning of the internal market and new opportunities opened to them, as well as to assist SMEs in their efforts to anticipate and adapt to industrial change and current mutations in their business environment.

Source: European Commission, DG XXIII
DE

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