Think small first – SME Envoys Network
At the beginning of this month, on the July 5th-6th, SME Envoys met for their regular meeting – one of four the network holds every year. YES for Europe is one of the official business organizations present at SME Envoys assemblies. During the meeting in Lisbon Luca G. Donelli, YES 2016 President presented our G20 YEA Berlin Communiqué and G20 YEA itself to all the participants. Following this important moment, we would like to introduce you the activities of SME Envoys Network and how it contributes to the well-being of young entrepreneurs in the European Union.
Small Business Act within EU policy
Before going into details, it is important to take a closer look at a framework overarching the whole EU policy on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Small Business Act (SBA) referred to aims to improve the approach to entrepreneurship in Europe, simplify the regulatory and policy environment for SMEs, and remove the remaining barriers to their development.
The ‘Think Small First’ Principle makes the foundation to improve the overall policy approach to entrepreneurship and ensure that SMEs’ interests are taken into account at a very early stage of policy making. This helps the EU develop SMEs-friendly legislation. The tools enabling effective application of the principle are among all consulting and listening to SMEs and the work of SME Envoys.
What is the SME Envoys Network?
Set up in 2011, the institution makes up an Small Business Act advisory group that promotes SME friendly regulation and policy making in all EU countries. Even though EU countries can do a lot to improve regulatory and policy environment for SMEs, it is often hard for small businesses to voice their opinion and reach policy makers. The network aims to improve consultation process with national SMEs and cooperation between EU countries.
The current EU SME Envoy is Ms Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Member of the European Commission for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. Her role involves:
- opening up channels of communication between the European Commission, SMEs, and their representative organisations;
- promoting SMEs‘ interests throughout the whole Commission and ensuring that the ‘Think Small Principle’ is applied effectively in the new Europe 2020 strategy.
How the Network works?
Each EU country has nominated a national SME Envoy, who are usually Ministries of Economy or similar units to complement the role of the EU SME Envoy who chairs the network. Their role is to promote SMEs’ interests throughout all government bodies and ensure that the “Think Small First” principle is integrated into their policy-making and regulatory proposals. They are also supposed to act as the main interface between the Commission and national policy-makers and report on the uptake of the SBA in EU countries, step up efforts to distribute information on SME policy actions, and promote the exchange of good practices.
The Network meets four times a year with observers from European Business Organisations. To the observers belong:
- European Startup Network (ESN) – covering the matters of the Start- and Scale-up Initiative
- JADE (the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises) is an umbrella organization of more than 300 student-run businesses across 250 universities in 14 European countries.
- YES for Europe – The European Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs – which is the main association of young entrepreneurs in Europe associating 18 organizations from 16 countries. YES represents around 50.000 entrepreneurs under 40 years old and aims at improving the economic and social performance of young entrepreneurship in Europe
To find out more about Small Business Act and SME Envoys, go to the European Commission homepage, specifically a site focused on Entrepreneurship and SMEs.