It is clear that an event like this is necessary for countries in the EU. This conference increased the confidence of entrepreneurs to get involved in European policy-making and brought many issues to the fore.
The conference also highlighted how the EU is good for SMEs. 85% of all new jobs in the EU between 2002 and 2010 were created by SMEs and 32.5 million people in the EU are self-employed. EU financial instruments put in place in 2007-2013 have made a positive contribution to at least 120,000 SMEs, helping to maintain 851,000 jobs since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008. There is also European funding available, such as COSME, which will allocate €2.3 billion between 2014 and 2020 to strengthen the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe.
We need to make sure that access to these key strands of support are open to everyone who is considering starting a business or seeking to grow their business. We need to invest more in Research & Development and Innovation. And we need to dedicate increased resources and create innovative networks, bringing together universities, research labs and SMEs, to cover the whole value chain.
Finally, for SMEs to reach their maximum potential, more dialogue is needed between the public and private sectors, there needs to be more simplification and stability in the legislation process when it impacts SMEs and TTIP negotiations need complete transparency.
I believe that it is crucial that Romania and Romania’s interests need to be supported and treated as equally as any other country in the European Union.
Last but not least, I would like to thank Maria and all her wonderful staff for their hard work and for even helping me speak a bit of Romanian!
My speech in full can be found here.