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SMEs at heart of Government and EU plans for growth and job creation

02.05.2013, 09:00 GMT


Writes Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD.

As the Irish Presidency of the EU is focused on Stability, Jobs and Growth, initiatives to help SMEs are top of my priority list.

That’s why as Chair of the EU Competitiveness Council, I’m bringing together the leading experts on SMEs this week in Dublin Castle. EU Enterprise Ministers will be sitting down with a range of international specialists to draw up the best new ideas for SME support and job creation.

Already the Irish Presidency has achieved some valuable wins for SMEs: auditing requirements for SMEs are set to be reduced and the target participation rate for SMEs in the EU’s new €70bn innovation programme Horizon 2020 has been increased from 15 to 20 per cent.

We in the Irish Government understand that SMEs are crucial to the transition that is taking place from a broken economy reliant on property, banking and debt to a new, sustainable economy based on enterprise, exports and innovation.

Since the 1970s new Irish SMEs have been creating jobs at twice the rate of older and bigger firms, according to new research from the Central Bank of Ireland.

That is why the Irish Government is determined to improve supports for SMEs and make sure that they are at the heart of our plans for growth and job creation.

Access to finance is undoubtedly still an issue facing new SMEs. We have zeroed in on this issue in a variety of ministerial fora during the Irish Presidency, with the issue a key agenda item on this week’s informal Council. I am also joining EU Commission Vice-President Tajani and key stakeholders for a dedicated SME Finance Forum in Dublin on the day before Indusrty Ministers get together for their informal meeting.

It is crucial that our banking system works better for SMEs. It is no more than entrepreneurs and job seekers deserve given massive supports to the banking system. In Ireland, tougher targets are being set for lending to business but the banks have a significant distance to go in rebuilding their capacity to lend to productive enterprises.

While finance is crucial, opportunities for new business development are just as important.

Again, in the case of Ireland, that’s why our 2013 Action Plan for Jobs contains several reform measures that are specifically designed to increase the openings available to Irish SMEs.

We are putting in place measures to support more Irish SMEs to trade online.  We are also introducing a single licensing system for retailers, to reduce the burden of licensing in this area by a third. I believe strongly that across Europe, SMEs are crucial to the transition that is taking place to a new, sustainable economy based on enterprise, exports and innovation.

The recovery will be driven by entrepreneurs and their firms. The Irish Government and Ireland’s EU Presidency are behind them every step of the way.

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During the Irish Presidency of the EU, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton T.D., is Chair of the EU Ministerial Councils for Competitiveness and International Trade.

Notes for Editors

The informal meeting of the Competitiveness Council is being held on 2-3 May in Dublin. Minister of State Seán Sherlock TD will chair a meeting of EU Research and Innovation Ministers on day one which will examine how to optimise the benefits of research investment for European jobs, growth and society. More information is available here http://eu2013.ie/events/event-items/informalcompetitivenesscouncil-20130501

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