Fabian Demicoli

COSME the new Programme for the benefit of businesses

 Vincent Farrugia EESC Employers Representative and GRTU Director General this week spoke in support of the Opinion presented by Lannoo and Burns regarding a Commission proposal establishing a Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (COSME) (2014-2020).

 

The EESC Opinion

The EESC Opinion states that the programme should:

1. address all businesses;

2. focus its resources on essential priorities: information, support and advice, access to markets and to financing, adaptation of EU requirements and standards, cooperation, incorporation of the priorities of EU 2020 Strategy (innovation, green economy and the employment of young people);

3. establish a fifth specific objective to this end: to support SMEs and their access to advice, focusing on small and microenterprises.

The EESC stresses that there is an insufficient level of governance partnership in the proposal. The EESC calls for the creation of a working group that would allow European SME organisations to be consulted during all stages of planning, implementing and monitoring the COSME programme.

Important points presented in the paper were also:

1. a distinction to be made between, on the one hand, access to markets and on the other, information, advice and setting up SMEs;

2. support for action already undertaken by SME organisations and public organisations in the Member States;

3.  a modification of the missions and organisation of the Europe Enterprise Network to ensure that it complements the action of SME organisations and involves them directly in its work. The network must be more visible and its potential should be fully used.

What is COSME?

COSME has a planned budget of €2.5bn (current prices). Its objectives are:

1. facilitating access to finance for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)

2. creating an environment favourable to business creation and growth

3. encouraging an entrepreneurial culture in Europe

4. increasing the sustainable competitiveness of EU companies

5. helping small businesses operate outside their home countries and improving their access to markets

COSME will:

1. ensure continuity with initiatives and actions already undertaken under the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (EIP), such as the Enterprise Europe Network, building on results and lessons learnt.

2. continue the many successful features of the EIP, while simplifying management of the programme to make it easier for entrepreneurs and small businesses to benefit.

3. support, complement and help coordinate actions by EU member countries. COSME will specifically tackle transnational issues that – thanks to economies of scale and the demonstration effect – can be more effectively addressed at European level.

 

COSME is expected to contribute to an annual increase of €1.1bn in the EU's GDP. The Enterprise Europe Network is expected to assist 40,000 companies with partnership agreements, resulting in:

1,200 new business products, services or processes annually

€400mn annually in additional turnover for assisted companies.

Access to finance will be easier for entrepreneurs, in particular those willing to launch cross-border activities, resulting in an expected annual increase of €3.5bn in additional lending and/or investment for EU companies.

What happens now?

The Commission's proposal will be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council, which must agree to adopt it. COSME should start on 1 January 2014.

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