Fabian Demicoli

Commission’s post-2013 budget proposal ticks all the right boxes, say SMEs

The plans for the post-2013 EU budget unveiled by the European Commission tick the right boxes in terms of spending priorities, although their benefits for small companies will largely depend on the final budget available and on the concrete implementation of the various headers and programmes.

 

GRTU was particularly pleased by the Commission's proposal to increase the amounts allocated to research and innovation, education and SME development, as well as by the "Connecting Europe" facility to finance investments in infrastructure. It also welcomed the aims to direct the use of structural funds in the framework of cohesion policy to a limited number of priorities, including SMEs' competitiveness and innovation. Moreover, GRTU welcomed the general approach of the new "Horizon 2020" framework on R&D&I, but reserved its judgment on the funding aspects until the division of resources among its "pillars" and the specific volumes for SME support will be made public.

 The European Commission must be praised for presenting a balanced and realistic budget proposal, which manages to secure resources for many fundamental headers while keeping the overall spending footprint under control. The plans unveiled yesterday have the potential of really boosting crafts and SMEs` activities, at least on paper. Of course, much will then depend on how the various programmes are put into practice, but the closest and most important hurdle at the moment is that the budget is approved without changes and cuts.

We are particularly pleased with the Commission's plans to promote the competitiveness of SMEs. Calls to simplify rules, reduce participation costs and accelerate award procedures were clearly taken on board, and the creation of a dedicated programme with an increased budget envelope is a clear reason to rejoice. SMEs' competitiveness and innovation also feature prominently among the priorities for cohesion policy and structural funds.

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