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ESC opinion on craft industries and SMEs

The Economic and Social Committee (ESC) of the European Communities has adopted an own-initiative opinion on craft industries and SMEs in the EU.

The opinion looks at the situation of the craft industry in different Member States, including the legal definitions of craft indu...
The Economic and Social Committee (ESC) of the European Communities has adopted an own-initiative opinion on craft industries and SMEs in the EU.

The opinion looks at the situation of the craft industry in different Member States, including the legal definitions of craft industries in different states. It is clear from this analysis that craft industries experience widely varying conditions across Europe. The opinion also looks at training and institutional support measures in Member States and at European level.

The ESC calls for the establishment of a specific Community policy for the craft industry. This should complement existing policies for SMEs, but must take account of the distinctive nature of craft SMEs. Other priorities for this policy should be the promotion of a European cultural identity for the craft industry, supporting the economic development of the craft industry, and encouraging craft industries to take part in exchange and cooperation programmes, both within the EU and with third countries.

The opinion suggests the following eleven action lines for a Community craft industry policy:

- Enhancing social consultation;
- Boosting business competitiveness;
- Establishment of a European Academy for craft industries and SMEs;
- Support for the development of a European identity for the craft industry and small businesses;
- Enhancing the role of apprenticeships and promoting combined work/training schemes;
- Improving information for micro-businesses;
- Simplifying bureaucracy;
- Incentives for cooperation and exchanges between micro-businesses and their organizations;
- Promotion of an innovation culture for craftsmen and small businesses;
- Promoting the improvement and development of transport and communication networks;
- Stepping up craft industry job creation initiatives.
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