Europe's approximately 23 million SMEs make up to 99% of all businesses and provide two-thirds of all private sector jobs in the EU. A study presented by the Commission in January revealed that six in ten new jobs are created by small enterprises. More than half of the value creation of European companies is attributed to SMEs.
Commenting ahead of the event, the Leader of the UK Liberal Democrat delegation in the European Parliament, Fiona Hall MEP, said that Lib Dem MEPs would take this campaign to the UK to help boost local businesses in a bid to create and safeguard jobs. She added:
"Small businesses are the main driving force for economic growth, innovation, employment and social integration. That's why we must ensure that with every law we pass SMEs are at the forefront of our minds. Each piece of legislation must be subjected to a SME test and impact assessment that takes account of the specific needs of micro-entities."
"This initiative is all about creating and safeguarding local jobs. Lib Dem MEPs will be visiting and listening to local businesses and entrepreneurs to learn what needs to be done to free their potential and to give them a strong voice at the European level. Let's put SMEs at the top of the political agenda."
The ALDE SME initiative has been welcomed by the European business community.
Gerhard Huemer, Economic and Fiscal Policy Director at UEAPME, the European craft and SME employers' organisation, commented:
"The vast majority of the legislation affecting SMEs comes from Brussels nowadays. That is why we welcome the campaign launched by the ALDE Group, and we hope that it will contribute towards better lawmaking for SMEs in the EU. The concrete measures in the ALDE SME Manifesto are spot on: red tape reduction, access to the single market and access to finance top the list of our members' concerns."
Tina Sommer, chairman the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) for EU and International Affairs, commented:
"It is the cumulative effect of legislation and the constant changes made to regulations that impose the burden on businesses. We therefore welcome the increased focus on reducing this burden on small businesses in these harsh times. However, a sweeping culture change among all policy makers to 'Think Small First', resulting in lighter regulation or exemptions such as the accountancy rules for micro businesses, is yet to be seen."
Patrick Gibbels from the European Small Business Alliance (ESBA) said:
"ESBA wholeheartedly welcomes the ALDE group's campaign to boost growth and local jobs. The phrase 'SMEs are the backbone of the economy' has become standard issue within the institutions' rhetoric, yet far too little is still being done in practice. The European Commission praises small companies as Europe's number one employer, it is time to act accordingly by improving SMEs' access to finance and, most importantly, by stopping to impose regulatory and administrative burdens on small companies."
Arnaldo Abruzzini, Secretary General of the Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry (EUROCHAMBRES), added:
"It is clear from the Chamber network's daily contact with SMEs across Europe that the economic crisis is hitting them hard. Unfortunately, many policy makers continue to acknowledge the economic and social importance of SMEs in one meeting and impose burdens on them in the next. This is why EUROCHAMBRES welcomes the unequivocal message of ALDE's 'Boost SMEs' campaign and endorses the concrete measures to cut red tape, support cross-border trade and facilitate access to finance."