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During a session of Appuntament ma l-Ewropa organised by the European Parliament Office in Malta, a Public Lecture was delivered by Dr Joanna Drake, Director for SMEs and Entrepreneurship and Deputy SME Envoy at the European Comission, DG Enterprise & Industry.
Dr Drake stated that SMEs have always been at the centre of the political agenda and that is exactly what their office always strives to do. She mentioned an important report announced by the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and had been made public, which next week will be handed to all Member States and on which the Commission will demand a clear commitment by all Member States to inject part of these funds in the real economy.
“The report clearly outlines how funds need to be directed in a way as to increase loans, guarantees and securitization for SMEs which are those deemed to be at higher risk. It also provides examples of best practices by Member States of funds are being utilized in such a a manner.”
Dr Drake continued that “we have today 21 Million SMEs which is less than the 23 Million we were used to. 2 Million have died due to the recession and were not regenerated. Recovery has started but it is a jobless recovery which is worrying and therefore the Commission is cautiously optimistic.”
She said that unfortunately we have taken things for granted for too long and SMEs have been through so much that the level of wanting to be entrepreneurs has gone drastically worldwide but especially in the EU which went down to 30% compared to 50% in the US and 70% in China.
GRTU’s Director General Vincent Farrugia said that this “comes as no surprise when we see what enterprises went through these last years everyone fears to go into entrepreneurship.”
“The issue of second chance and bankruptcies” is something Dr Drake says stands out and that the Commission intends to take serious action on. She stated the Commission issues a yearly report on how Member States are faring on the implementation of the Small Business Act – the Country Specific Fact Sheets. GRTU remarked on “how useful such fact sheets are.”
GRTU’s Director General called on the commission to “give statistics on how much bureaucracy has really been reduced and how much funds are really going to SMEs.” Dr Drake admitted that the Commission and Parliament ask for such a statistic in relation to funds and it is very difficult to get a clear picture of how much SMES have benefited, how much business was created and how much employment was generated.
Mr Farrugia “demanded funds that are more effective and accessible and a more direct approach. He said the Commission needs to breath down the neck of Member States to ensure funds are made accessible and the Commission must measure with a formula how affective we have been.”