Fabian Demicoli

A Maltese business manifesto for Europe GRTU presents its priorities


GRTU Deputy President Philip Fenech had last week actively
participated in a round table discussion organised by the European Parliament
office in Malta, where the main business stakeholders were also represented
together with candidates for the next EP election.

It emerged that the main concerns is that the European Union
puts too much emphasis on supply but not on demand, in terms of jobs, meaning
that as much as it is good for the EU to encourage people to go out and work,
it also needed to push to stimulate demand in the first place, so that
unemployed persons would be absorbed by employers, which it transpires, is not
the case since there do not exist enough businesses to do just that. Another
major concern is that the EU adopts a one-size-fits-all principle, despite the
fact that each Member State has its very own individual challenges.

GRTU expressed its belief that amongst the MEPs elected
should be individuals that really know what it means to be an entrepreneur. "If
we want Europe to really understand SMEs and think like an entrepreneur, we
literally need to have entrepreneurs in the heart of Europe", stated Philip
Fenech. "It is no mean feat to understand what the needs of SMEs are, therefore
having the possibility of electing someone of such background as an MEPs is a
golden opportunity. They know what it means to be an entrepreneur and they
think as entrepreneurs. They will be there to represent SMEs, they will have
the necessary flexibility and the power of decision making".

GRTU reminded however that at no point should MEPs operate
single handedly. It is no easy task to represent SMEs within so many sectors
and their many diversities. GRTU advised that MEPs should stay close to their
stakeholders. They know what t­hey need, they know what helps them and what
harms them, and therefore they must be listened to and consulted.

Mr Fenech also called for MEPs to keep in close contact with
business organisations by systematically consulting them on all policy
decisions affecting SMEs. . They should use their influential positions to
insist that business organisations and SME representatives at EU and national
level should be involved in the design and implementation of legislation and
support programmes. Such intermediary organisations and support entities are
key to assisting SMEs and SMEs turn to them for guidance therefore their
important role should be recognised.

The priorities of GRTU and its members for the upcoming
European Parliament elections include:

–    Fair competition

–    Improvements in the business environment and helping SMEs to
become more competitive

–    Attracting investment and creating employment training measures

–    Easier access to standards

–    Efficient public service

–    Respect of the heterogeneity of SMEs

–    Think Small First.

The round table discussion launched the process that will
lead to the drawing up of a joint manifesto of the expectations of Maltese
businesses for the forthcoming MEP elections.

GRTU is currently working on its own Manifesto that will be
presented later on during this first quarter of the year, closer to the
elections that are to be held on the 24th May 2014.

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