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EUROMANAGEMENT report identifies difficulties for SMEs

The European Commission has recently presented a report to Member States' representatives on the difficulties SMEs have with standardization, certification, quality assurance and safety requirements.

The report is the result of a EUROMANAGEMENT pilot action which was launched...
The European Commission has recently presented a report to Member States' representatives on the difficulties SMEs have with standardization, certification, quality assurance and safety requirements.

The report is the result of a EUROMANAGEMENT pilot action which was launched by DG XXIII of the Commission at the request of a number of European SME organizations. It was co-financed in cooperation with DG III (Industry).

Over 840 SMEs in the Member States and EEA countries were audited according to a common methodology established by a European coordinator, the French standardization body AFNOR.

The results of the study indicate that a considerable number of SMEs continue to expect advantages from the single market but lack an accurate understanding of its basic mechanisms. Virtually half of the SMEs in the sample said that they were familiar with the "CE" marking, but only one fifth of them were aware of the conditions for its use.

SMEs acknowledge a lack of information and feel uncomfortable with the complexity of relevant issues. On matters of standardization, certification, quality and safety at work, the report calls for action in the following areas:

- Awareness and motivation;
- Information;
- Training;
- Consultancy.

In addition, it recommends the promotion of SME participation in the standardization process, which can only be achieved by the combined efforts of all parties concerned at national as well as the European level.

The Member States' representatives welcomed the thoroughness of the analysis and the empirical evidence provided by the pilot action. This was considered to be of value in designing future actions of national and European institutions.
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