Editorial: Why Should SMEs Vote in the #EP2019?

On May 23-26th 2019 we will elect a new European Parliament. This is also very important for Europe's Small and Mid-sized companies, as 70% of all laws that affect us are determined via directives and regulations decided in Brussels and Strasbourg.

Just look at the 2018's blockbuster EU-product GDPR, the Union's single data protection regulation that can be applied by the European Commission directly, fining companies all over Europe, in theory. As good as the idea is to have only one data protection regulation in all 28 (or soon only 27) Member States, as bad these rules have been rolled out, creating a big confusion all over the continent and (luckily in most cases not justified) alarm among SMEs. Would the Commission have worked together with the SME Confederations and national associations from the beginning, most communication could have been made very much better.

In Europe unfortunately not all actors - members of European Parliament or Public Officers of the Commission - understand the real importance of small and medium-sized enterprises: we are the European economy. We have resisted best during the crisis, we have set-off people as the last ones and started as the first to re-employ again, when the worst was over. We invent continuously, we innovate with few means, we train 80% of the skilled workers and we create nearly 60% of all jobs. And finally, we produce 2/3 of Europe's wealth.

Many problems in the single member states can only be faced and solved together in Europe. For example, the payment terms: SMEs all over the continent complain about scandalous payment terms like 120 or even 180 days, imposed by big companies on the subcontractors and suppliers, thanks to a half sentence in the relevant EU-directive that makes this possible. If one Member State would like to change that on its own, the big companies in that country would simply make agreements with suppliers in other European countries. That is a simple example to show how things have to be faced and solved together.

And of course, the Single Market and the Single Currency are chances for us all, not only the open borders or ERASMUS for students and apprentices. But they need adequate corrections and counterbalances for the smaller players on the field. SMEs need a slightly tilted playing field in their favour. And this is what we are working for as European Entrepreneurs CEA-PME.

To achieve this, we, the creative and productive middle class need also representatives in the European Parliament that "think small first", that listen attentively to the small and mid-sized companies.

And, here the news: we are able to influence the outcome of these elections, if we focus on our real interests. Because out of 23 million registered enterprises, 99.8% are small and medium-sized companies. Together with our partners, families and employees we represent more or less 200 million voters.

Europe needs the small and medium-sized enterprises, but we also need Europe: If we think about all the challenges we are facing, like terror, climate change or the dramatic changes from new technologies – we can only say: Better together! Unfortunately, our British friends did not see it in this way. But we are happy to state that the other 27 countries stood together as one in negotiating the terms of the Brexit. In this way and in others, Europe can be our best opportunity to turn challenges into chances. And in particular, if it is a Europe that recognises the SMEs as the truly European economy.

Therefore, we will listen attentively to those parties that propose European policies that are good for us. And choose the new majority on the European Parliament.

SMEs for Europe, Europe for SMEs!

Stefan Moritz
Managing Director European Entrepreneurs CEA-PME


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